Pharmacies should designate a suitable space for isolation in the event of having patients with coronavirus symptoms (Covid-19), new guidelines by NHS England state.

Pharmacy staff should identify ‘at least one suitable space/room in the practice for patient/patient group isolation’, according to the guidance.

It adds that if there is no suitable room, the best option is an isolated area within the practice that can be cordoned off, allowing for a two-metre space from other patients and staff.

In addition, non-essential furnishings and items should be decluttered and removed. NHS England said that ‘this will assist if decontamination is required post-patient transfer’.

A telephone should be placed in the room or space so patients can contact NHS 111, added the guidance.

The new standard operating procedure, which also provides advice for elsewhere in primary care - GPs, optical and dental settings - is an update to the national strategy to ‘identify, isolate and contain’ Covid-19.

It urges healthcare professionals to identify potential cases as soon as possible, prevent the potential transmission of infection to other patients and staff, and avoid direct physical contact - including physical examination and exposure to respiratory and other secretions.

Staff are also reminded to inform NHS 111, seek clarification with Public Health England if unsure whether the individual should isolate at home or within the practice, and that 111 is running a Covid-19 enhanced service that will be the entry point for people concerned they may meet the case definition for the virus.

The first death of a British citizen due to Covid-19 was announced today (28 February). The man died in Japan, having been a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the Foreign Office confirmed.

Meanwhile, the UK’s confirmed cases have expanded beyond England. 

Community pharmacists are facing growing demand from panicked patients for face masks and hand sanitiser and are struggling to restock following the coronavirus outbreak.

Northern Ireland and Wales now also have one case each, bringing the UK’s total to 19.