GP practices in England have been forced to shut temporarily due to the deadly coronavirus, as two out of eight confirmed UK cases are understood to be GPs.
According to reports, both GPs are based in Brighton.
Brighton-based County Oak Medical Centre closed suddenly on Monday after a GP tested positive for the virus. It is advising its patients to contact NHS 111 if they have any concerns.
The Seaford Medical Centre near Brighton was closed briefly on Friday for ‘health and safety’ reasons but has since reopened. NHS Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG said this was a ‘precautionary measure’ taken ‘after a patient presented with flu-like symptoms’.
Meanwhile, Brackley Medical Centre in Northamptonshire was also closed as a precautionary measure. It reopened yesterday ‘following the surgery being cleaned in line with national protocols and guidelines,’ according to a note on its website.
Public Health England told Pulse two ‘professional healthcare workers’ are among the confirmed UK coronavirus cases but would not confirm that they are GPs.
PHE medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle said: ‘As a result of our contact tracing we now know the new cases announced today are all closely linked to one another. Our priority has been to speak to those who have close and sustained contact with confirmed cases, so we can advise them on what they can do to limit the spread of the virus.
‘Two of these new cases are healthcare workers and as soon as they were identified, we advised them to self-isolate in order to keep patient contact to a minimum.
‘We are now working urgently to identify all patients and other healthcare workers who may have come into close contact, and at this stage we believe this to be a relatively small number. We would like thank all those who have followed public health advice and have taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk to the general public.’
At County Oak Medical Centre, the practice’s voicemail stated on Monday that the centre had to shut ‘due to an urgent operational health and safety reason’ – and it remains closed this morning.
County Oak Medical Centre operates out of two sites, Warmdene Surgery and Deneway Surgery, which are both closed and between them serve 16,961 patients.
County Oak Medical Centre is now undergoing a deep clean and aims to reopen to patients as soon as possible after the precautionary measure.
The GP who contracted the virus is understood to be a former partner at the practice, who is believed to have worked an administration shift at the centre last week. They are not believed to have seen any patients during the shift.
The GP’s husband and nine-year-old son were two of the five British people to have coronavirus diagnosed while at a ski resort in France.
None of them is said to be in a serious condition and all are believed to have been infected by a father from nearby Hove who picked up the bug in Singapore.
A male doctor is among four people from Brighton who are now confirmed to have been infected while staying at the French resort at the same time, and they are being kept in isolation in London.
There are eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with the Government announcing new powers on Monday to detain people suspected of having the new form of the virus.
Guidance was released by Public Health England at the end of last month, advising GPs to shut any patients suspected of having the virus in the consultation room if they believe they could be infected.
PHE is trying to contact anyone else who is thought to be at risk of contracting the virus.
Pulse has contacted NHS Brighton and Hove CCG for further comment.
The Patcham Nursing Home in Brighton, which is served by the County Oak Medical Centre, has stopped accepting non-essential visitors as a precaution. One of the infected GPs visited one patient at the care home last week, but the patient is not displaying any symptoms of illness.
A spokesperson for the care home said: ‘It is important to state that no one at the home is unwell. However, following the closure of the local GP surgery, as a precaution we have closed the home to all visitors. As a responsible care home and employer, we have put in place our own checks on residents and staff and Public Health England has confirmed it is happy with our actions.’
Note: This article was last updated at 14.45 on 11 February.