27/02/2020 8:38 AM AEDT | Updated 27/02/2020 8:42 AM AEDT

GP Sends Hysterical Coronavirus Alert By Mistake: ‘DO NOT ATTEND THIS PRACTICE’

People at one practice in south London were left thinking their surgery had shut because of Covid-19, with no further explanation for hours.

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A woman wearing a facemark on the London Underground.

A GP practice in south London has apologised after wrongly sending its patients a text telling them to avoid the surgery because of coronavirus

Patients at the Clapham Family Practice were sent a message on Wednesday afternoon reading: “Coronavirus Advice,DO NOT ATTEND THIS PRACTICE!. [sic]

“If returning from travelling or concern re contact with Coronavirus ring 111 or PHE 0344 326 2052.”

HuffPost UK
Clapham Family Practice

However, when patients called the practice, they were told that the advice in fact only applied to people who actually believe they may have come into contact with the virus.

HuffPost UK understands a number of patients believed the surgery was in lockdown and called the practice, which admitted the message was “not clear enough”.

One patient said: “It was a bit of a shock to receive it, especially as it didn’t say who it was from. It came across as if the whole practice was closed.

“I’m still confused over whether it is saying not to go full stop, to be honest.” 

Three hours later, Clapham Family Practice was in the process of sending a follow-up message to patients apologising for the blunder – though two patients who spoke to HuffPost UK had yet to receive it.

The new message reads: “Earlier today you received a message about coronavirus. We can confirm the practice is open for business as usual and apologise for any misunderstanding or alarm caused.

“To clarify the current guidance for coronavirus is available on the website Please refer to this guidance prior to coming to the surgery, if in any doubt contact NHS 111.”  

In a statement about the incident, Clapham Family Practice told HuffPost UK: “We have sent out an updated message with an apology for any confusion caused by the original message to all of our patients.” 

To date, 13 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, four of whom tested positive on Sunday after returning from an infection-hit cruise ship which was quarantined in Japan. 

Meanwhile, more than 7,100 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK. 

According to the latest advice from Public Health England, anyone who has returned from Hubei province in China, Iran, parts of northern Italy and some areas of South Korea in the past two weeks should self-isolate. 

Meanwhile, people who believe they have symptoms of coronavirus should stay at home indoors, avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111.