This week there have been two cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in Kingston, at the headquarters of the online travel agent Travel Republic in Norbiton and at Kingston Academy on Richmond Road.

But how are locals responding to the virus? We popped down to take a look.

Alper Sert is the owner of Peppy Beads on London Road, Norbiton, near Travel Republic’s headquarters.

He said he has seen a drop in business in the last week since local schools started sending children and staff home, and described the situation as “worrying”.

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“There are so many customers in here wearing gloves. Whenever a customer in the shop coughs, all the others are running out again,” he said.

He also said he has stopped importing products from China as a precaution.

“We don’t want to take any risks in case the virus lives on the boxes,” he said.

“It’s already affected the business and it will be affected more. We don’t have any A or B plan, we are just waiting and trying to increase our online sales with our existing customers.

“There are less people and they change the time frame they are in here. We are a craft shop, so our customers are relaxed people who browse between 11am and 4pm. But now if someone needs something they pop in early in the morning and then they are off.” he said.

Further up the road at Orange Supermarket, owners Zee and Shab Qadri are less worried.

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“So far we’ve not really seen any changes, people are coming in business as usual,” said Zee.

But he has started selling facemasks to customers, as residents have become more and more concerned.

Zee says he picked them up at the local cash and carry and has sold “between 20 to 25” this week.

But he can’t get any hand sanitiser, and wants to see the council and government giving out more to small businesses for customers when they enter the shop.

Shab says: “Precautions are at an extreme level at the moment and people are buying up stock because they don’t want to take any chances.”

Resident Samantha Banton, 43, has been self-isolating for a few weeks now, before the Kingston cases were even announced.

She was born with Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus and has had surgery and chronic health problems all of her life.

She said: “Self isolating as much as possible is my only option, apart from attending essential hospital appointments by patient transport. I am used to self isolating as when I have had major skin graft surgery I have had to rehab at home after being discharged from the hospital for six months! I have to be careful not to catch germs in the wound after surgery.

She says she is having her shopping delivered to her home, and is “fully prepared”.

“Netflix, SkyQ and the broadband are my best friend,” she said. 

Today Kingston’s Director of Public Health, Iona Lidington issued a statement reassuring residents after the Department of Health and Social Care announced the first confirmed coronavirus case in the borough on Tuesday [March 3].

She said: “This case is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident of Kingston, with the case having recently returned from Italy. There has also been an unconfirmed report of another case in an employee who works in Kingston.

“We fully anticipate an increase in numbers over time, which is why our services have planned for, and are ready, for this situation.

“Current evidence indicates that most cases appear to be mild, with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. Older residents or those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions may experience more severe symptoms, which is why it is important to help protect ourselves and each other.

“Following Government guidance to take basic hygiene precautions remains the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands. We should do this all day every day as we should for flu.

“Good regular cleaning with normal detergent of surfaces people touch regularly or may cough onto, like door handles and lift buttons, is also sensible. People should log on onto for the latest advice and information.”

She also confirmed that Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with the confirmed case of COVID-19. They are working closely with NHS colleagues in the area, as well as Kingston Council, to manage the situation and help reduce the risk of further cases.

“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”