Medics who have been regularly performing tests for the virus that spawned from Wuhan have described in detail the manner in which screening is being conducting – and it is not for the faint hearted. Dr Lewis Kohl, a director of CareMount Medical in New York, told Fox News: “You’re sticking a swab all the way to the back of the nose or throat and it’s uncomfortable for maybe five or 10 seconds.” He added that flu samples, by contrast, can be taken from the mouth with ease.
Dr Kohl said if a patient is determined to be “a person under suspicion” for the virus then a nasal or throat swab is then performed to obtain a sample for testing.
He added: “If there’s not enough of [a sample] we might need to go deeper.
“The saline is a really salty fluid that causes you to bring up sputum — big yellow goobers deep in your lungs.”
Patients must also answer a series of questions including whether they have been to Wuhan recently and if they are experiencing virus symptoms.
The Department for Health states these on the Government website.
It reads: “Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
“Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.”
The site also discourages Britons from travelling to the area.
Cases spiked dramatically this week when the definition of the illness was broadened and led to more diagnoses of people in the Chinese province of Hubei.
The coronavirus, now known as Covid-19, has killed 1,370 people, three of which were outside of China.
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Vaccines do take time to create because the virus needs to be studied – while it spreads and potentially mutates – and must also be tested, first on animals then on humans.
But they also cost money to make. Typically dominated by the likes of Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the multi-billion-pound vaccine industry is expected to grow this year but profits are not guaranteed.
Brad Loncar, a biotechnology investor and chief executive of Loncar Investments told the BBC: “Successfully developing a preventive vaccine or treatment for a public health crisis is difficult. It typically takes a lot of time and money.
“There is typically little money in it for companies that do successfully develop something, not the billions that some investors mistakenly expect.”
In the UK, those first to be quarantined have been released.