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Coronavirus case forces Kent's Gulbenkian to cancel The Marxist in Heaven show as cast members tested


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A Kent theatre was forced to cancel a stage show as tests are carried out on cast members linked to the county's first confirmed coronavirus case.

The Gulbenkian was due to host The Marxist in Heaven - by youth theatre company NT Connections - on the University of Kent's Canterbury campus.

The Gulbenkian theatre is based on the University of Kent campus
The Gulbenkian theatre is based on the University of Kent campus

But it was forced to axe the performance after a "close contact" of those involved with the group was diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease, now known as Covid-19.

Pupils from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Faversham are in isolation
Pupils from Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Faversham are in isolation

UKC spokesman Gary Hughes later said: "On March 1, staff at Gulbenkian were made aware that a family member of two cast members of the National Theatre ‘Connections’ production had tested positive for coronavirus.

"As a result, they were advised to self-isolate as a precaution and the other members of the cast were tested on March 2.

"We sought the advice of Public Health England and were advised by them that no further action was required.

"However, because of the inevitable concerns people may have, we took the decision to cancel the 2 March performance, although we were not instructed to do so by Public Health England.

"The University is operating as normal, with all venues and outlets remaining open."

Earlier today, an employee of a business at Maidstone Studios was revealed to be the first confirmed coronavirus case in the county.

At the same time, pupils at Queen Elizabeth's in Faversham were isolated after a family member was diagnosed with the disease.

It is not yet known if the three cases involve the same person, but the Department of Health says there is just one confirmed diagnosis in Kent.

At just after 2pm today, it said 13,525 people in the UK had been tested for the virus, with 40 positive results - up from 36 yesterday.

All four new patients, including the one in Kent, have returned from Italy, which is at the centre of Europe's outbreak.

It has recorded more than 1,000 cases of the virus, which has killed 3,000 and infected 90,000 globally. The mortality rate is estimated at 1%, whereas influenza is 0.1%.

Those who bought a ticket to The Marxist in Heaven have been told to await a call from the Gulbenkian, or contact the theatre on 01227 769075 or boxoffice@kent.ac.uk.

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