British man who was on board quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan dies

A British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship has died after being infected with coronavirus, Japanese authorities said today, making him the first Briton to die of the illness.  

The man was among 78 Britons quarantined on the cruise liner which became one of the world’s largest clusters of virus cases when 705 people tested positive during a failed two-week lockdown. 

Wall Street stocks tumbled in opening trading today, suffering another steep decline with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down nearly 700 points in the first 15 minutes and $5trillion wiped off the world economy this week as fears of the virus spreading rocked global markets.

It came as six new coronavirus patients were confirmed in the UK in the space of 24 hours, as cases of the deadly illness accelerate around the country and Britain ramps up its fight against the virus. 

Boris Johnson has today finally stepped in to take charge of the spiralling crisis by agreeing to chair a Cobra emergency meeting arranged for Monday. 

But furious politicians slammed the ‘part-time’ Prime Minister, saying it shouldn’t take three days for the meeting to take place, while former chancellor George Osborne demanded that the government go on a ‘war footing’ to reassure the ‘fearful’ public with regular Cobra meetings and daily press briefings. 

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today warned Britain was at a ‘tipping point’, saying the NHS would struggle with a pandemic and that hundreds of thousands of lives could be at risk if this outbreak escalates. 

Pressure is growing on Number 10 to take action as countries around the world have started to implement drastic prevention policies. Switzerland today banned all events involving more than 1,000 people, while Japan has shut schools for two weeks and Italy put 50,000 people in 11 towns into lockdown when cases escalated. 

Coronavirus is already taking its toll on everyday British life, with some schools and businesses closed and fears growing that major events such as Ascot, the Grand National and the Premier League football season could be shelved. 

The crisis, which is escalating outside of China, has rocked world financial markets – £265billion has been wiped off of London’s FTSE100 this week. Globally, shares are down about $6trillion (£4.7trillion) overall this week and Wall Street is also bracing itself after Dow Jones plunged another 1,000 points for the third day this week.

A British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship (pictured in Yokohama) has died after being infected with coronavirus, Japanese authorities confirmed today

Nineteen patients have now been confirmed in the UK, after England confirmed two travellers had tested positive yesterday and Northern Ireland last night announced its first case. Scotland has yet to be struck down

Nineteen patients have now been confirmed in the UK, after England confirmed two travellers had tested positive yesterday and Northern Ireland last night announced its first case. Scotland has yet to be struck down

As the coronavirus crisis tightened its grip on Britain today:  

A World Health Organization spokesperson said the virus could eventually infect every country on the planet and that it ‘has pandemic potential’All 168 British tourists at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel remain locked down in quarantine while the first batch of guests to leave have been pictured undergoing medical tests before checking outBritish airlines easyJet and British Airways have said they will start cancelling flights because of a fall in demand triggered by the global coronavirus crisisA correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain shared a video of him walking through Heathrow arrivals from a Milan flight without going through any special checksPope Francis is still feeling ‘slightly unwell’ and has cancelled his official audiences today, the Vatican has saidNewcastle United Football Club have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid the fear of coronavirusA London teacher who caught the coronavirus has revealed both her parents, who lived in the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the outbreak began, have died   A pet Pomeranian dog has tested positive for the coronavirus after its owner became infected with the killer disease in Hong Kong

The Japanese Ministry of Health said the first Briton to die of coronavirus was the sixth person to succumb to the illness after travelling on the Diamond Princess.  

Switzerland bans all events involving more than 1,000 people 

Switzerland has today banned all events involving more than 1,000 people in a drastic bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

The Swiss government announced the emergency measure today and said it will last until at least March 15. 

Officials say the ban on ‘public and private events’ is intended to ‘prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum’.

The move will affect events including concerts, the Basel Carnival, the Geneva Motor Show and matches in the Swiss Football League.  

Switzerland has already confirmed 15 cases of the virus, and officials expect the outbreak to get worse because of the crisis over the border in northern Italy.   

The Swiss ban on ‘large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people’ will take effect immediately. 

‘In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent [regional] authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held,’ authorities said. 

Health minister Alain Berset said that similar measures had proved ‘effective’ in other countries. 

The government said it was ‘aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland’ but added that ‘it should prevent or delay the spread of the disease, thus reducing its momentum’. 

The health minister told reporters that the number of cases in Switzerland was ‘not a surprise for us’, adding: ‘We have to expect an increase in cases in the next few days’. 

The measure will affect the annual Geneva Motor Show, which was due to take place from March 5-15 and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Football fixtures are also affected. The five teams due to play at home this weekend all had more than 1,000 spectators in their last home games. The matches have now been postponed.  

Taking a different approach, the national Swiss hockey league said all games this weekend will be played in front of empty stadiums. 

The traditional Carnival procession in Basel will also have to be called off.  

A total of 705 of the ship’s 3,711 passengers and crew were found to be infected during the lockdown, sparking severe criticism of how Japanese authorities had handled the case. 

Passengers were confined to their cabins on board the ship in what scientists described as an ideal breeding ground for the virus, with tourists also voicing concerns about the conditions on board. 

The UK government eventually chartered a flight to airlift 32 people home from the cruise ship, but dozens of Britons remained in Japan. Four of them were in hospital after testing positive, while others chose not to join the flight.   

The four known British patients included honeymooner Alan Steele, who has since recovered and flown back to Britain where he is under quarantine in the Wirral. 

Only two of the other three British patients were named: David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, who are in hospital in Japan. Mr Abel yesterday posted footage of himself dancing in his hospital ward. 

Health bosses never named the fourth British patient, who was left behind for treatment in Japan.   

Japanese media said today that the British victim was one of the 705 people who tested positive during the quarantine, apparently excluding the possibility that he was infected after leaving the ship.  

Shortly after the news of the man’s death broke today, health minister Jo Churchill said she was aware a British man who had been on board the Diamond Princess was ‘very poorly’.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘The Foreign Office are supporting the family of a British man who has been very poorly and was a passenger on board the Diamond Princess.

‘I haven’t had confirmation, because obviously I’m on the telephone to you, but I was aware there was a gentleman who was very, very poorly, and I’m sure like me your thoughts and sympathies go out to his family at this time.’ 

She added: ‘It is my understanding this British national doesn’t in fact reside in the UK, but lives elsewhere in the world. That makes absolutely no difference to his family. Our sympathies and thoughts are with them at this difficult time.’ 

Earlier today, a Japanese woman in her 70s who had also been on the Diamond Princess was revealed as the fifth cruise ship passenger to die from the virus. The British man is the sixth, and the first foreigner. 

Cruise operator Princess Cruises acknowledged the man’s death today and offered ‘sincere condolences’ to the passenger’s family and friends. 

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities. Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.’ 

A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess - in this case passengers who were about to be flown home by the Israeli government - drives away from the cruise ship in Yokohama last week

A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess – in this case passengers who were about to be flown home by the Israeli government – drives away from the cruise ship in Yokohama last week 

FREEFALL FRIDAY: FTSE DROPS 3.2% AS VIRUS PANIC HITS GLOBAL MARKETS

This graph shows how the FTSE 100 opened 3.2 per cent down this morning, compared to yesterday afternoon

This graph shows how the FTSE 100 opened 3.2 per cent down this morning, compared to yesterday afternoon

The coronavirus outbreak is causing chaos on the markets, with the FTSE 100 dropping to its lowest level since July 2016 and more than £200billion in UK shares 

More than £265 billion has been wiped off top UK firms’ in a week, as the FTSE 100 drops to its lowest level since July 2016 amid global coronavirus panic. 

The index dropped 4.5 per cent in just 90 minutes this morning, more than 300 points worse off than yesterday, with stocks in free fall and panic gripping the City. 

Though it had recovered slightly by lunchtime, it plummeted to a 4.5 per cent drop again around 2.30pm.

Exasperated traders could be seen leaving the London Stock Exchange today as shares continued to plummet. 

In the U.S The Dow Jones Industrial average lost 463 points, or 1.8 percent, at the opening bell on Friday, and losses quickly widened to as much as 1,000 points, one day after the index’s biggest one-day point drop in history. 

If the Dow closes down by more than 1,000 points on Friday, it would be the third time this week — and the second day in a row — that the index lost points in the four digits, something that had previously only happened twice in history. 

Globally, shares are down about $6trillion overall this week and Wall Street is also bracing itself after Dow Jones suffered its worst points loss on record yesterday.  

It comes after Wales confirmed its first case and two more patients in England were diagnosed. It follows three cases which were announced yesterday.

Welsh health chiefs revealed the patient, believed to be in their thirties from Swansea who was taken to a specialist NHS hospital in England, caught the virus in northern Italy, which is at the centre of Europe’s crisis that has engulfed Britain and the rest of the continent in fear.

Both new cases in England were infected in Iran, which has been rocked by its own crisis. The death toll in Iran rose by eight today, reaching 34, while the number of confirmed cases rose from 245 to 388 in an outbreak which forced the stoppage of Friday prayers in Tehran and the heavily-affected holy city of Qom today.  

The patients were rushed to the Royal Free Hospital in London for urgent NHS treatment. Officials refused to reveal their age, gender or where they were diagnosed. 

Nineteen patients have now been confirmed in the UK, after England confirmed two travellers had tested positive yesterday and Northern Ireland last night announced its first case. Scotland has yet to be struck down.

One of the English cases yesterday is thought to be a 43-year-old mother in Buxton who caught the virus at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in Tenerife, where hundreds of British holidaymakers have been quarantined. 

The other is thought to be a man in Surrey who was infected in Italy and flew to Britain from Milan, raising fears the COVID-19 disease is spreading outside of the 11 towns locked down in the north of the country.  

Questions are now being asked as to why passengers on flights from the Italian city, which is the closest airport to the locked-down area of northern Italy, are sailing through British airports without any health checks. 

Italy is the site of Europe’s worst outbreak so far, with 650 people infected and 17 dead, but authorities in some less-affected areas were today re-opening schools and museums in an effort to bring daily life back to normal. 

It comes as emergency plans are being drawn up by British health officials to contain the coronavirus. Schools could be closed for at least two months, major gigs and music festivals cancelled. The entire British football season could even be declared ‘null and void’, with Liverpool potentially missing out on the Premier League title if matches are scrapped.    

More than 83,000 people worldwide have been struck down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The death toll stands at almost 2,900 – up from just 200 at the end of January.  

A woman enters Buxton's Burbage Primary School, which has been closed until Monday due to a confirmed case of coronavirus amongst the school's 'parent population'

A woman enters Buxton’s Burbage Primary School, which has been closed until Monday due to a confirmed case of coronavirus amongst the school’s ‘parent population’

Both new cases in England were infected in Iran and were rushed to the Royal Free Hospital in London for urgent NHS treatment

Both new cases in England were infected in Iran and were rushed to the Royal Free Hospital in London for urgent NHS treatment

More than 83,000 people worldwide have been struck down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The death toll stands at almost 2,900 – up from just 200 at the end of January

More than 83,000 people worldwide have been struck down with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The death toll stands at almost 2,900 – up from just 200 at the end of January

More than 800 cases of the killer coronavirus have now been recorded across Europe, with 655 of them in Italy – which has locked down 11 towns in a desperate attempt to contain the crisis

More than 800 cases of the killer coronavirus have now been recorded across Europe, with 655 of them in Italy – which has locked down 11 towns in a desperate attempt to contain the crisis

NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB BANS PLAYERS FROM SHAKING HANDS 

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce shakes hands with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta - but Bruce has admitted the ritual is banned at the training ground because of coronavirus

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce shakes hands with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta – but Bruce has admitted the ritual is banned at the training ground because of coronavirus

A Premier League football team has banned players shaking hands as coronavirus threatens to disrupt Britain’s football for months and see fans banned from stadiums if it becomes a pandemic.

Millions of supporters travel the length of the UK to follow their team but some are expected to masks at matches this weekend or choose may not to travel as the number of cases grew to 19 today.

Public Health England has now admitted if the country loses its grip on the virus the public could be banned from sporting events for two months, threatening football fixtures and Six Nations rugby matches this month and the London Marathon and Grand National in April.

The Euro 2020 football tournament, which starts in Rome, could also be in doubt while British cycling stars Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish are quarantined at their Berlin hotel and are being tested after two Italians staff fell ill. Further ahead the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed or moved.

Newcastle United has a daily tradition where players and staff greet one another with a handshake every morning but manager Steve Bruce admitted today: ‘We’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor’.

But the Premier League will not be stopping the traditional shaking of hands between teams before matches.

And as Switzerland today banned all events involving more than 1,000 people, Mr Bruce said: ‘We’re glued to the TV and let us hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.’

Today Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he is ‘worried’ about being drawn against Inter Milan in the Europa League – after the northern Italian team found itself on the edge of the country’s coronavirus crisis zone.

Dr Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, confirmed the country’s first coronavirus case this morning, in a patient who caught the virus in Italy.  

He said ‘all appropriate measures are being taken’, to prevent the spread of the virus on British soil. It is unclear which hospital they were taken to but Wales Online reports that the patient has links to Swansea.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, confirmed both new cases in the country had caught the killer SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iran. Both were taken to the Royal Free Hospital in London. 

The Northern Ireland case confirmed last night was a woman who caught the virus in Italy and travelled back via Dublin with her child in the past two days. 

Aer Lingus today confirmed that the patient had travelled with the airline from northern Italy to Dublin. 

‘Aer Lingus is co-operating fully with the HSE in relation to the Covid-19 developments and is liaising with the Department of Foreign Affairs, other government departments and the relevant authorities as required,’ a statement said.  

Authorities have admitted that people who may have come into contact with her have been contacted. 

Ireland’s health minister has also met with the environmental health officers at Dublin Airport who are providing information on coronavirus to people flying into the country.  

All previous 13 coronavirus cases in the UK had links to the Far East, with the latest wave of cases around the world centred outside of China. The infection has yet to spread on British soil. 

Two of the new cases caught the virus in Iran, which has been battered by its own outbreak which has seen its own its vice president Masoumeh Ebtekar – known as Screaming Mary for her role as a spokeswoman for the 1979 hostage-takers during the US embassy crisis – become infected, while the Islamic republic’s former ambassador to the Vatican, Hadi Khosroshahi,has died.   A World Health Organization spokesperson said the virus could eventually infect every country on the planet and that it ‘has pandemic potential’.  

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today warned that the UK was approaching a ‘tipping point’ in its attempts to fend off the disease.

He said that in a worst case scenario seven out of 10 people in the UK could catch the illness and that hundreds of thousands of lives were at stake. 

Mr Hunt told Sky News: ‘Our worst case scenario is 70 per cent becoming affected. Hundreds of thousands of lives could depend whether we could keep the infection levels down to 10 per cent, or five per cent.’

He said he believed most members of the public would co-operate with containment measures – which in recent days have emerged as school and office closures, sporting event cancellations, and the stopping of large public gatherings, if an outbreak takes hold – but hoped drastic steps wouldn’t be necessary. 

The UK is at a ‘critical’ moment, Mr Hunt said, and he added: ‘we do need to prepare ourselves for what might happen.’        

A Good Morning Britain correspondent shared video of himself and fellow passengers from Milan, the closest airport to Italy's coronavirus crisis, passing through Heathrow without any health checks

A Good Morning Britain correspondent shared video of himself and fellow passengers from Milan, the closest airport to Italy’s coronavirus crisis, passing through Heathrow without any health checks

The coronavirus outbreak has devastated markets around the world with London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong all hit hard overnight and this morning

The coronavirus outbreak has devastated markets around the world with London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong all hit hard overnight and this morning

Traders leaving the London Stock Exchange this morning after the FTSE 100 plummeted because of coronavirus panic

Traders leaving the London Stock Exchange this morning after the FTSE 100 plummeted because of coronavirus panic

'Slightly unwell': Pope Francis, pictured on Ash Wednesday this week when he appeared to have a cold, has scrapped his official audiences today

‘Slightly unwell’: Pope Francis, pictured on Ash Wednesday this week when he appeared to have a cold, has scrapped his official audiences today 

SCHOOLS IN THE UK COULD BE CLOSED FOR TWO MONTHS TO CONTAIN THE KILLER CORONAVIRUS 

Emergency plans are being drawn up by health officials to contain the coronavirus, which could see schools closed for at least two months.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed an unprecedented ban on large public gatherings could be required to fight a global pandemic.

The most extreme measure could be to mirror the decision to shut Japan’s entire school system, which will close from Monday for a month until April. 

A shutdown would see millions of parents, including key workers such as surgeons, nurses and paramedics, forced to stay at home to care for their children.

Professor Whitty admitted it is ‘just a matter of time’ until coronavirus spreads more widely and quicker through the UK.

The fightback could include ‘reducing mass gatherings and school closures’, with Premier League matches either under threat or played behind closed doors.

The London Marathon and the Grand National in April could also be at risk because of the large number of spectators.

And this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome is under review.

Theatre performances, gigs and music festivals such as Glastonbury could also be banned or pared back if the UK fails to get a grip on the crisis. 

Labour today accused Mr Johnson of acting as a ‘part-time prime minister’, saying he should be taking action immediately to take control of the situation after he announced he would chair a Cobra meeting on Monday.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Our part-time prime minister needs to get a grip of this escalating situation quickly. It shouldn’t take another three days for this meeting to take place.’

Former chancellor George Osborne said Mr Johnson should be chairing a daily Cobra meeting, saying the public needed to know that ministers had the situation under control.

‘The British Government now needs to go onto a “war footing” with the coronavirus: daily NHS press briefings, regular Cobra meetings chaired by the PM, ministers on all major media shows,’ Mr Osborne, who now edits the London Evening Standard, tweeted.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘With the NHS already so stretched, it’s gobsmacking that the Prime Minister has delayed chairing Cobra for so long.

‘Johnson seems like he’d rather bury his head in the sand than hear for himself what the experts are saying and what his ministers are doing.’

Downing Street said officials from the Department of Health, Public Health England and other relevant departments were meeting on a daily basis to discuss the crisis, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been chairing a weekly Cobra meeting. Those will now be stepped up to take place twice weekly.

‘The Prime Minister is keen to chair Cobra on Monday to ensure that everything that can be done is being done,’ the spokesman said. 

It is thought one of the two cases confirmed yesterday is a a 43-year-old administrative assistant in Buxton, a Derbyshire town which yesterday went into lockdown because of a confirmed case. 

The mother – reportedly whisked off to a hospital in Liverpool by medics in hazmat suits alongside her boyfriend – has a child at the Burbage Primary School, which was shut until Monday to undergo a deep clean. 

A BBC reporter who has a son at the school was told the parent’s child did not go to Tenerife but that they did attend classes on Monday and Tuesday. 

Elderly residents in Buxton, 30miles (48km) south of Manchester, yesterday spoke of being scared about going to the shops because of the coronavirus.

Health officials admitted the parent caught the virus in Tenerife. They are thought to have stayed at the quarantined H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel – a four-star seafront resort paralysed by the killer coronavirus after four Italian holidaymakers tested positive for the infection. 

Spanish officials imposed a two-week quarantine on Monday, in a desperate attempt to contain the deadly virus.

A total of 168 British holidaymakers are still trapped in the 500-room hotel alongside at least 100 guests from other countries.

Before they will be cleared to go, British guests voiced their frustration at the ‘awful’ situation and begged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rescue them. 

The global crisis has rocked world financial markets and London’s FTSE100 has had dropped to the lowest level since the 2008 financial crash.

The FTSE100 market dropped more than three per cent this morning, with more than £200billion wiped off London shares this week.

Bank of England boss Mark Carney warned that Britain could be set for an economic growth downgrade.  

Health personnel wearing protection clothing check the temperature of a guest at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife today

Health personnel wearing protection clothing check the temperature of a guest at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife today 

Health personnel check the temperatures of a guest leaving the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, Tenerife today

Health personnel check the temperatures of a guest leaving the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, Tenerife today 

Medical professionals and representatives from TUI assist families after they were released from lockdown at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in La Caleta, Tenerife today

Medical professionals and representatives from TUI assist families after they were released from lockdown at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in La Caleta, Tenerife today 

In a picture of what could be to come, Inter Milan's San Siro stadium was empty for the team's Europa League match as sporting fixtures could be played behind closed doors or even cancelled to avoid spreading illness

In a picture of what could be to come, Inter Milan’s San Siro stadium was empty for the team’s Europa League match as sporting fixtures could be played behind closed doors or even cancelled to avoid spreading illness

SO WHY ARE PASSENGERS FROM NORTHERN ITALY SAILING THROUGH HEATHROW WITHOUT ANY HEALTH CHECKS?

A correspondent for ITV's Good Morning Britain shared a video of him walking through Heathrow arrivals from a Milan flight without going through any special checks

A correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain shared a video of him walking through Heathrow arrivals from a Milan flight without going through any special checks

One of England’s coronavirus patients managed to fly into the UK from Milan without going through any health checks, according to reports.

A case confirmed yesterday was believed to be in a Surrey man who had flown home without visiting any of the towns at the centre of Italy’s quarantine zone.

Flights from the Italian city, which is the closest airport to the locked-down area of northern Italy, land in the UK dozens of times a day.

But a correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain shared a video of him walking through Heathrow arrivals from a Milan flight without going through any special checks. 

More than 650 people have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Italy, with almost all of the cases declared in a devastating surge which started last weekend.

There are now fears that many more people will have become infected with the virus while on half-term trips to the Alps and brought it in through British airports, and that people continue to travel into the UK from the disease-hit region.

A growing list of major companies are issuing profit warnings and say factory shutdowns in China are disrupting supply chains.  

British airlines easyJet and British Airways today announced they will start cancelling flights because of a fall in demand triggered by the global coronavirus crisis.

easyJet said flights to and from Italy were most likely to be affected and that it was too early to say whether this year’s summer holidays would be affected.

The owners of British Airways said the virus, which is now surging in South Korea, Iran and Europe more than it is in China, will mean it earns less money this year. 

Airlines are reported to be flying blind into a crisis of unknown severity and duration as people cancel holidays or avoid travel for fear of catching the virus abroad. 

Emergency plans are being drawn up by health officials to contain the coronavirus, which could see schools closed for at least two months.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed an unprecedented ban on large public gatherings could be required to fight a global pandemic.

The most extreme measure could be to mirror the decision to shut Japan’s entire school system, which will close from Monday for a month until April. 

Across the UK, at least a dozen schools have closed over fears of the virus spreading while at least 20 more – including Harrow School and Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s private school in southwest London – have sent pupils and teachers home for a fortnight after coming down with colds and coughs after ski trips to coronavirus-hit Italy over half term. 

A shutdown would see millions of parents, including key workers such as surgeons, nurses and paramedics, forced to stay at home to care for their children. 

Professor Whitty admitted it is ‘just a matter of time’ until coronavirus spreads more widely and quicker through the UK. 

Speaking at a Nuffield Trust summit, he said: ‘If this becomes a global epidemic then the UK will get it.

‘And if it does not become a global epidemic, the UK is perfectly capable of containing and getting rid of individual cases leading to onward transmission.’ 

Boris Johnson posed for pictures with doctors on his surprise visit to Kettering General Hospital last night

Boris Johnson posed for pictures with doctors on his surprise visit to Kettering General Hospital last night

Former Chancellor George Osborne today called for the Government to adopt a 'war footing' with the coronavirus, urging for daily NHS press briefings and regular COBRA meetings chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Former Chancellor George Osborne today called for the Government to adopt a ‘war footing’ with the coronavirus, urging for daily NHS press briefings and regular COBRA meetings chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

One of the English cases yesterday is thought to be a 43-year-old mother in Buxton who caught the virus at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in Tenerife, where hundreds of British holidaymakers have been quarantined. She has a child at the Burbage Primary School (pictured)

The Buxton mother was reportedly whisked off to a hospital in Liverpool by medics in hazmat suits alongside her boyfriend – health officials confirmed one of the two cases in England that were confirmed had been taken to the Liverpool hospital

The Buxton mother was reportedly whisked off to a hospital in Liverpool by medics in hazmat suits alongside her boyfriend – health officials confirmed one of the two cases in England that were confirmed had been taken to the Liverpool hospital

A medic in protective clothes walks to a house close to the scene of the Buxton case yesterday

A medic in protective clothes walks to a house close to the scene of the Buxton case yesterday, after one coronavirus case was confirmed in the Derbyshire town

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS IN THE UK? 

Newcastle: Two Chinese nationals who came to the UK with coronavirus and fell ill while at a hotel in York. One was a student in the city and the other was his mother. They were the first two cases on British soil and were confirmed on January 31. They were treated at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and have since been released.

Steve Walsh: The first British coronavirus victim became known as a super-spreader . He picked up the virus in Singapore and flew for a ski break in France afterwards where he appears to have infected at least 11 people. He was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London from Brighton on February 6 – but was released on February 12 after recovering.

Dr Catriona Saynor, who went on holiday with Mr Walsh and her husband, Bob, and their three children, is thought to be the fourth patient in the UK diagnosed with coronavirus. Her husband and nine-year-old son were also diagnosed but remained in France. She was taken to a hospital in London on February 9 from Brighton. She was thought to be at the Royal Free in Camden, but has since been released.

Four more people in Brighton were diagnosed and were all ‘known contacts’ of the super-spreader and are thought to have stayed in the same French resort. One is known to be an A&E doctor and is believed to have worked at Worthing Hospital. Another attended a bus conference in Westminster on February 6. They were all treated in London and have now been sent home.

London: The first case of the coronavirus in London brought the total number of cases in the UK to nine. The woman was diagnosed on February 12, after going to A&E in an Uber. She was then taken to St Thomas’ Hospital. She is thought to have flown into the UK from China the weekend before, with officials confirming she caught the virus there.

Merseyside: Four out of 32 people who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were diagnosed with the virus when they got home, on Sunday February 23. They are thought to have been taken to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which is close to Arrowe Park Hospital where the other 28 passengers are in quarantine.

Derbyshire: Mother from Buxton thought to have picked it up in Tenerife. She is believed to be the parent of a child at Burbage Primary School in Buxton, which closed after news of her diagnosis. It was confirmed on February 27.

Surrey: A man is thought to have tested positive after returning from a trip to Milan. The case was also announced on February 27.

Northern Ireland: A woman who travelled to NI from northern Italy via Dublin. The case was the first in NI and was announced on the night of February 27.

Wales: Its first case is thought to be a patient with links to Swansea. It was announced on February 28 but details are scarce.

Two more cases were taken to the Royal Free Hospital in London. The Department of Health confirmed the cases on February 28, saying both had caught the virus in Iran. 

But he said onward transmission was likely, adding: ‘If it is something which is containable, the UK can contain it. 

‘If it is not containable, it will be non-containable everywhere and then it is coming our way.’

The fightback could include ‘reducing mass gatherings and school closures’, with Premier League matches either under threat or played behind closed doors.

The London Marathon and the Grand National in April could also be at risk because of the large number of spectators.

And this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome is under review.

Theatre performances, gigs and music festivals such as Glastonbury could also be banned or pared back if the UK fails to get a grip on the crisis. 

The NHS has said it is well prepared for the growing threat but senior doctors have admitted that they could have to ration care. 

Under protocol dubbed ‘Three Wise Men’, a hospital’s most senior consultants would meet daily and decide which patients would get beds and ventilators.

It means that vulnerable people such as the elderly and already seriously ill would be given less priority than younger and healthier patients.

It comes as a London teacher who caught the coronavirus has revealed both her parents, who lived in Wuhan, have died since the outbreak began.

Muying Shi, 37, was visiting her parents in the Chinese city at the centre of the epidemic, which is her hometown, when the virus started to spread.

She was trapped in the lockdown and then caught COVID-19 herself and was taken into isolation in a hospital after a CT scan revealed signs of infection in her lungs.

Her father, Xianging, has since died from the illness, which causes severe pneumonia and can be particularly deadly for old people.

And her mother, Liping, who had end-stage cancer, could not get proper medical treatment because Wuhan’s hospitals were so overloaded with coronavirus patients.

Ms Shi is still in Wuhan, where authorities are still preventing people from leaving the city, and said she is recovered and just waiting to return home to the UK.  

It comes as one of England’s coronavirus patients managed to fly into the UK from Milan without going through any health checks, according to reports.

A case confirmed yesterday was believed to be in a Surrey man who had flown home without visiting any of the towns at the centre of Italy’s quarantine zone.

Flights from the Italian city, which is the closest airport to the locked-down area of northern Italy, land in the UK dozens of times a day.

But a correspondent for ITV’s Good Morning Britain shared a video of him walking through Heathrow arrivals from a Milan flight without going through any special checks.

More than 650 people have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Italy, with almost all of the cases declared in a devastating surge which started last weekend.

There are now fears that many more people will have become infected with the virus while on half-term trips to the Alps and brought it in through British airports, and that people continue to travel into the UK from the disease-hit region.

Workers stop preparations for the upcoming 90th Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland after it was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak

Workers stop preparations for the upcoming 90th Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland after it was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak

A view of cars inside an exhibition hall as workers stopped preparations for the 90th Geneva International Motor Show, which was scheduled to begin on March 5

A view of cars inside an exhibition hall as workers stopped preparations for the 90th Geneva International Motor Show, which was scheduled to begin on March 5

Schools could be closed for eight weeks and sporting fixtures such as FA Cup, Grand National and London Marathon postponed under emergency plan to contain coronavirus as three new cases in one day are confirmed in Britain 

LONDON TEACHER TRAPPED IN WUHAN REVEALS BOTH HER CHINESE PARENTS HAVE DIED SINCE LOCKDOWN STARTED



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