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Coronavirus may have been spreading around the UK for two months before it was detected

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Reports suggest that coronavirus may have been spreading across the UK since late 2019, months before it was detected.

The World Health Organisation has said that it was struggling to obtain information regarding coronavirus from China in the early days, before it was declared a global pandemic. 

The Guardian reports that genetic analyses of the new coronavirus suggested the virus emerged in humans in China in late November to early December 2019, with some data suggesting the first known case was observed on November 17th.

China’s official submission to the WHO states the first infection was December 8th. 

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The first confirmed date of coronavirus in the UK was January 31st. But as our understanding of the range of distinct symptoms of the virus has grown, many people wonder if they or their loved ones could have had it earlier. 

Dr Stephen Baker at Cambridge University’s Infectious Diseases Institute told The Guardian: “People are on heightened awareness about any sort of respiratory infection and it is easy to retrofit stories to things.

“Let’s say it was kicking off fairly substantially in Wuhan and people weren’t being informed: could there have been people travelling to and from China at that point who may have been infected by coronavirus? That is completely possible. Is it then possible that they transmitted the virus to other people when they were in the UK? Yes, of course that’s possible.”

Last month it was reported that swabs from a man, thought to be suffering from pneumonia, tested positive for Covid-19 in Paris on December 27th. This would mean that COVID-19 was in Europe a month earlier than previously thought.

Last month Tim Spector, an epidemiologist professor reporting on the symptom-tracking app developed at King College London, said: “The reports I am getting are from people who were ill from early January onwards and strongly suggest they had Covid-19 but were not recognised as such.”

On March 13th, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies concluded that: “there are more cases in the UK than previously thought and we may therefore be further ahead of the epidemic curve”.

Dr Baker explained that it would take an influx of infected people to cause real growth in the epidemic in the UK. He attributes this potentially people coming back from holidays in February half term such as ski holidays in Italy.

He said: It’s really at the point when you get a number of introductions in one go that onward transmission is more likely to happen … as soon as you get a certain number of the population infected in one go then you make that expansion of an epidemic [more likely].”

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Baker also says that not everyone who has coronavirus is equally infectious and earlier cases might have been people who did not come into contact with others. He said: “When you’re ill, you tend to stay at home, so people may have been self-isolating on the basis that they didn’t feel very well.”

A clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at King’s College London, Nathalie MacDermott, has said that the virus could have been spreading silently and gaining access to more vulnerable sections of the population. 

The WHO has encouraged countries to investigate other suspicious cases to better understand the circulation of the virus. 

Public Health England has also acknowledged that it ‘cannot exclude the possibility that Covid-19 was in the UK in December or early January’.

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Second man arrested after girl, 6, abducted and assaulted

BREAKING: The girl was abducted on Wednesday afternoon

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GMP

A second man has been arrested on suspicion of abducting and sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl in Greater Manchester.

The man, twenty-three, remains in custody for questioning, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed.

Previously a thirty-five-year-old man was arrested, but he has since been released with no further action taken.

Officers were first called to reports of an abduction at around 4pm on Wednesday, August 17th. The child was allegedly taken into a wooded area near a disused railway in Droylsden. 

There, the girl was taken to a van where she was sexually assaulted. She was taken back to the woods before managing to find her own way to a nearby park. 

She has since been reunited with her family, and is been supported by specialist officers.

Before his release, the first suspect was questioned by detectives yesterday, who were said to be ‘keeping an open-mind’ as they continued their hunt for another man who had been ‘acting suspiciously’ in the area at the time.

Anyone with more information on the incident has been urged to contact GMP on 0161 856 9262 or LiveChat quoting incident 2270 of 17/08.

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Teen girl who died after getting into difficulty in water is named

BREAKING: The teenager’s body was recovered overnight earlier this week

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The teenage girl who died after getting into difficulty in a lake in Stalybridge has been named as Lucy Smith.

The fourteen-year-old’s body was recovered from water near Crowswood Drive in Stalybridge after emergency services were called out at around 6:30pm on Monday (August 15th).

Police said the body was recovered overnight and was then formally identified.

A spokesperson for the Manchester South Coroners’ Court has now confirmed that a file in relation to Lucy’s death has been passed to the coroner.

An inquest will open at a later date. Police said they do not believe there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.

Detective Inspector Steven Horton, of GMP’s Tameside CID, said at the time of Lucy’s death: “Yesterday evening’s events are nothing short of devastating and my thoughts are with the friends and family of the young girl who lost her life in such awful circumstances.

“We are doing all we can to support the girl’s family at this incredibly difficult time, and we are focused on ensuring they get the answers they deserve as to how this tragedy occurred.

“From our enquiries so far, we are confident that there are no suspicious circumstances and that this is such a sad reminder of the dangers of entering open water, whatever the weather.”

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Man arrested after girl, 6, abducted and assaulted

A second man is still at large

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Google Maps & GMP

A man has been arrested on suspicion of abducting and sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl in Droylsden, though the hunt for another man continues.

Police were first called to reports of an abduction at around 4pm yesterday (August 17th). They believe the girl was taken by a man on Warne Avenue and into a wooded area near the disused railway track towards Manchester Road.

There, the girl was taken to a van where she was sexually assaulted. She was taken back to the woods before managing to find her own way to a nearby park. 

She has since been reunited with her family, and is been supported by specialist officers.

Last night, Greater Manchester Police announced that a thirty-five-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of abduction and sexual assault.

He was taken into custody to be questioned by detectives, who are ‘keeping an open-mind’ and continuing to hunt for another man who was ‘acting suspiciously’ in the area at the time.

Police released two pictures of the man, with the second image showing him on Gainsborough Road, heading towards The Snipe with his jacket removed around thirty minutes after the incident.

Anyone who sees the man should call 999, quoting incident 2270 of 17/08/2022. Other details – including sightings on CCTV, dash cam, or doorbell footage – can be passed to police via the LiveChat facility on the website or by calling 0161 856 9262.

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