A London coronavirus patient was at a conference with 250 people from across the UK

Health officials have warned hundreds of attendees from a conference in London last week that they may have been in contact with a coronavirus sufferer.

The Covid-19 patient, who has not been identified, visited the UK Bus Summit at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on Thursday 6 February 2020.

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A spokesperson for Public Health England said the other delegates had been informed as a precaution.

A precautionary approach

Around 250 people are reported to have attended the UK Bus Summit in Westminster last week, according to the organisers, Transport Times.

The industry publication sent out an email to attendees yesterday (Thursday 13 February), confirming that a person suffering from Covid-19 Coronavirus had been to the conference.

Advice from Public Health England urged attendees that they did not have to act if they felt well. But, it said, if they develop symptoms like a cough or a fever, they should stay indoors, avoid contact with other people, and call NHS 111.

Dr Chow, a PHE consultant in health protection, said, "One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.

"While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation."

Why is the coronavirus now called Covid-19?

‘Coronavirus’ is actually the name of a large family of viruses, not the virus itself.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that coronaviruses usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses”, like the common cold.

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So, technically, to say somebody has a coronavirus could mean anything from them suffering with the common cold to the new deadly strain of the disease.You or I could have come down with a coronavirus at some point in our lives, and not even paid notice to it - most people get infected with the viruses at some point, although they usually only last for a short period of time.

This particular strain originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the largest city in central China, and is in the same family as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

To distinguish it from other coronaviruses, it needed its own name. Enter Covid-19, taken from the words "corona", "virus" and "disease", with the "19" representing the year that it emerged.

Apart from being able to report on and discuss the disease accurately, the new name also aims to avoid prejudice against certain locations and groups of people.

"We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease," the WHO chief said.