More than 200 people now diagnosed with coronavirus in UK as doctor warns against 'mass panic'

The number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK as of 7am on Saturday has risen to 206 from 163 at 9am on Friday, the Department of Health said.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 7th March 2020, 2:57 pm

In the North East and Yorkshire, 13 patients have tested positive for coronavirus - with no further cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.

An infectious disease specialist has warned against mass panic and stockpiling as infections from the Covid-19 coronavirus continue to spread.

Doctor Abdu Sharkawy of the University of Toronto's Division of Infectious Disease wrote on Facebook that he was not scared of the virus, but was scared of the implications of mass panic.

More than 200 people now diagnosed with coronavirus in UK as experts warn against 'mass panic'

He said: "What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world.

"I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others.

"I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they 'probably don't have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know...' and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess."

He warned people to expect the virus to continue to spread, but that it would "not likely do much harm" and advised against panic.

Travel restrictions could even see weddings and sporting events cancelled, graduations missed and family reunions not happening, he said.

He also questioned whether the 2020 Olympic Games would go ahead, however, the International Olympic Committee said the Tokyo Games will go on as planned.

"Let's meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophising," Dr Sharkawy said.