select search filters
roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to new UK case of COVID-19, where transmission occurred within the UK

A new case of COVID-19 has been reported in the UK, where transmission also occurred in the UK.


Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor Section of Infection & Immunity, University of Leeds, said:

“Whilst the first person to person transmission within the UK may come as a shock to many, it was really only a matter of time.  It is increasingly clear that SARS-COV2 is capable of being spread by people showing very mild, or perhaps completely unnoticeable symptoms, which has allowed it to escape the lockdown in China, albeit within a relatively small number of individuals.

“However, this has been sufficient to promote the seeding of small, sporadic community outbreaks in numerous countries, the majority of which have been successfully contained. Nevertheless, we have also seen the beginnings of much larger outbreaks in countries like South Korea and elsewhere, which are likely to have been seeded after a similar fashion. This highlights the challenge faced once the virus becomes established.

“What now becomes critically important is our ability to identify, isolate and care for infected individuals, and to trace their recent contacts.

“If localized outbreaks remain contained then it should be possible to limit the impact upon the UK. However, I suspect the frequency of small outbreaks might increase in coming weeks as the source countries of imported cases become more diverse.

“If we experience a burgeoning epidemic as seen in South Korea it will represent a significant challenge to our already stretched NHS and public health infrastructure. As directed by WHO, we should use this time window to invest and prepare for such a potential outbreak, whether it happens or not. In particular, we must ensure that our health care professionals are equipped with the appropriate environments and protective measures such that they can provide the necessary care to the public with minimal risk that they might themselves become infected.”


Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:

“This case – a person testing positive for novel coronavirus with no known link to an affected area or known case – marks a new chapter for the UK, and it will be crucial to understand where the infection came from to try and prevent more extensive spread.”

“This was always a concern – this is a virus that frequently causes symptoms very similar to mild flu or a common cold, and it’s easily transmitted from person to person. This means it can easily go under the radar.”

“This was always a real possibility and one of the reasons that the government introduced more extensive surveillance. This will prove invaluable and help us understand where this virus is and who is infected. This will be essential if we are to implement measures to slow its spread and allow our NHS to respond. We can also do our bit by making sure that we are vigilant with our own personal hygiene.”


Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:

“Given the increase in cases around Europe and outside of China, it’s unsurprising to see a probable case of human-to-human transmission here in the UK. There will be significant efforts to look at how this patient came to be infected, who is the index case in the UK, and to see if any there are any other secondary cases. Though this is a notable development here in the UK, the overall risks to the public right now remain unchanged.”


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:

The SMC also produced a Factsheet on COVID-19 which is available here:


Declared interests

None received

in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag