COUNCIL chiefs have issued advice to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

Blackburn with Darwen Council bosses say while the situation is serious, it is important not to panic as the risks for people in the UK are very low at present.

As of now, only three positive diagnoses have been returned from more than 450 tests.

Dominic Harrison, the borough’s director of public health, is working closely with Public Health England to monitor the situation and deal with any local response should it be required.

He said: “There are steps we can all take to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like coronavirus.

“The main principal is to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’: cover any cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

“In the workplace ensure hand hygiene and shared workspace cleanliness.

“There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

“If you have been to Wuhan in the last 14 days you should self-isolate at home and not attend work.

“If you have returned from other parts of mainland China in the last 14 days and develop symptoms, call NHS 111.

“If you are worried that your symptoms may be caused by coronavirus, call NHS 111,” he added.

It has been reported that the third patient is a middle-aged British man and is understood to be the first UK national to contract the disease.

The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and was transferred St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where there is an infectious disease unit, on Thursday afternoon.

Health officials are not believed to be “contact tracing” people on any Asia-UK flight the latest sufferer may have travelled on.

Two other patients are still being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle.

The Government is now urging travellers from countries including Thailand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea to self-isolate if they begin to feel unwell.