Hunt is on for people who came close to UK’s new coronavirus cases

Health authorities in the UK are rapidly tracking down everyone who came into contact with the six coronavirus patients announced in the past 24 hours.

Travellers returning from Italy, Tenerife and Iran have been confirmed to be England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s most recent cases of the infection, bringing the UK total to 19, up from 13 at the start of the week.

Public Health England must now track down all the people each of them live with, flew home alongside and anyone who has been within two metres of them for 15 minutes or more since they returned to Britain.

The virus can spread easily through coughs and sneezes and by being close to someone who is carrying the infection. So far, nobody has passed on the virus while in the UK, but the government is expecting more cases to appear and is on high alert to stop transmission on home soil.

Former Chancellor George Osborne today urged the government to adopt a ‘war footing’ in its preparations for the virus, adding ‘The public is fearful, wants information and needs to know their leaders have got a grip.’

The first British person to die from COVID-10, the illness which the virus causes, succumbed to the infection in a hospital in Japan today, authorities have confirmed. The man had been on-board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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

As Italy, Iran and South Korea grapple with surging numbers of cases, the situation in China has calmed down exponentially this week. The global number of infections has risen above 83,000 and 2,868 people have died.

Italy, which is in the grip of the worst epidemic outside of Asia, has attempted to restore normal life in some of its less hard-hit areas, with schools and museums reopening, while Switzerland has announced a ban on any public gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to stop the virus after declaring its first infection yesterday.

There are now concerns that people are flying into the UK from Italy unchecked and able to get out of the virus-hit area around Milan, which has two airports, on the dozens of daily flights which connect the two countries. 

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.

Boris Johnson has today finally stepped in to take charge of spiralling crisis by chairing 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.

Pressure is growing on Number 10 to take action as countries around the world have started to implement drastic prevention policies such as closing schools, stopping sporting events and even closing off hard-hit towns.

The crisis, which is escalating outside of China, has rocked world financial markets – £200billion has been wiped off of London’s FTSE100 this week, taking it to the lowest level seen since the devastating 2008 financial crash. 

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

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

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

A woman is pictured outside Victoria Station in London wearing a face mask today as the UK has declared it has had a total of 19 infections – eight of the patients have already recovered and gone home

A woman is pictured outside Victoria Station in London wearing a face mask today as the UK has declared it has had a total of 19 infections – eight of the patients have already recovered and gone home

Health and safety staff are pictured in the baggage hall of Dublin Airport with posters for a coronavirus public awareness campaign

Health and safety staff are pictured in the baggage hall of Dublin Airport with posters for a coronavirus public awareness campaign

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

SWITZERLAND BANS ALL EVENTS INVOLVING MORE THAN 1,000 PEOPLE WHILE JAPAN SHUTS ALL SCHOOLS FOR A MONTH 

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 Japanese prime minister has today ordered the closure of all schools in the country for a month in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Shinzo Abe said: ‘The government considers the health and safety of children above anything else.

‘We request all primary, junior high and high schools… across the nation to close temporarily from March 2 next week until their spring break.’

Government protocol every time there is a new case of the coronavirus is to track down everyone who is at risk of having caught the illness from that patient.

People who live together are at the highest risk of spreading the virus between themselves, but health officials also have to trace those who come into ‘close contact’ with the patient.

This is defined as being within 2 metres (6’6″) of them for 15 minutes or longer.

Work colleagues, friends or sports teammates, for example, could also be at risk.

Public Health England said contact-tracing for the three people who were diagnosed today is ‘ongoing’.

The patients are a man in Wales, believed to be from Swansea, who caught the virus in Italy, and two people in London who contracted the illness in Iran.

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.

Iran has had one of the worst virus outbreaks in the world outside of China, with its number of cases rapidly rising to at least 338 people and 39 people have died. 

The country has the highest death toll outside of China and two senior politicians – vice president Massoumeh Ebtekar and deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi – have caught the illness.

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

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.  

As the coronavirus crisis tightened its grip on Britain today and leading scientists warned the three new cases were ‘unexpected’, it has also emerged: 

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 Former Chancellor George Osborne has called for the Government to adopt a ‘war footing’ position and carry out daily NHS press briefings Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally stepped in to take charge of spiralling coronavirus crisis by chairing a Cobra emergency meeting… but it will not happen until MondayA pet Pomeranian dog has tested positive for the coronavirus after its owner became infected with the killer disease in Hong Kong 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. 

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.’   

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. 

Among them are Rolls-Royce, which has admitted the coronavirus crisis could affect profits, with bosses ‘paranoid’ about its impact. 

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

Muying Shi, a teacher in London who flew to Wuhan to visit her parents before the outbreak got serious, has been trapped in the city ever since and both her mother and father have died since she arrived

Muying Shi, a teacher in London who flew to Wuhan to visit her parents before the outbreak got serious, has been trapped in the city ever since and both her mother and father have died since she arrived

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.

Emergency plans are being drawn up by health officials to contain the coronavirus, which could see schools closed for at least two months and major sporting events, gigs and music festivals cancelled.

As cases of the deadly virus in Britain hit 19 today, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed an unprecedented ban on large public gatherings could be required to fight a global pandemic.

Six British patients have fallen ill in the past 24 hours – today two people who had been in Iran tested positive and are in the infectious diseases unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital. 

Wales also has its first case this morning after patient from Swansea had travelled back from northern Italy with coronavirus. 

There were three new cases in the UK yesterday. Although it is not confirmed, it appears the mother of a child at a Derbyshire school has tested positive after coming back from Tenerife, leading to the closure of Burbage Primary School in Buxton.

A second patient, believed to be a man from Surrey, was diagnosed yesterday after returning from Milan after a ski trip to the Italian Alps. 

And Northern Ireland also had its first case last night – a woman who had come back from northern Italy via Dublin. 

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 UK 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 – and the fightback could include ‘reducing mass gatherings and school closures’, with Premier League and FA Cup 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 – the capital of coronavirus-hit Italy – is under review.

Coronavirus fears have gripped Britain, with one man opting to wear a gas mask while travelling on the London Underground as he waited for a train yesterday

Coronavirus fears have gripped Britain, with one man opting to wear a gas mask while travelling on the London Underground as he waited for a train yesterday

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?

The signs of COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus, are often mild and are very similar to a cold, flu or chest infection.

Typical symptoms of infection include a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

These are common complaints at this time of year, so where someone has travelled or who they have come into contact with are important in determining whether they might have coronavirus.

The NHS considers people to be at risk if they have the symptoms above and have recently travelled to mainland China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or the north of Italy (north of Pisa and Florence).

People who have, in the past two weeks, been to the Hubei province of China, Iran, the South Korean cities of Daegu or Cheongdo in South Korea, or one of 11 quarantined towns in northern Italy are considered to be at risk even if they feel well.

The 11 towns in Italy are Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo.

Those who have come into contact with others who have visited those places and then feel ill may also be at risk. 

People who fit any of the categories above should stay at home and self-isolate, away from other people, and phone NHS 111 for more advice. If you think you have the coronavirus do not go to a doctor’s surgery or hospital.

The virus can spread through coughing, sneezing, or by being close to someone for prolonged periods of time. 

To protect themselves, people should cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away, wash their hands and avoid contact with sick people. 

 Source: NHS

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.

Today Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a patient has tested positive for Coronavirus after returning from northern Italy. 

50 of the 168 British guests at the Tenerife hotel at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak were allowed to leave last night before their two-week quarantine was completed sparking fears they could bring the disease home with them. Jet2 is refusing to fly them home until mid-March.  

The NHS has said it is well prepared for the growing threat but senior doctors have admitted that they could have to ration care and focus on those most likely to survive and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘The NHS would find it hard to cope if the pandemic took off’.



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