First UK coronavirus cases confirmed

Two people have been confirmed as having coronavirus in the UK.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, announced the infections this morning and detailed that the pair were members of the same family. 

He said: “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus. The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.”

Ahead of the confirmed cases, more than 160 people had been tested across the UK, previously returning negative results. 

The exact location of the two who tested positive has not been confirmed. 

Prof Whitty said: “We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

The announcement comes as 83 British nationals who were trapped at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China were returning to the UK. 

Their plane left Wuhan,  where the deadly illness is believed to have originated, on Thursday night. They are expected to land at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at about 1.30pm on Friday before being transported to a quarantine centre in the Wirral.

There is no indication the coronavirus case is any of the passengers on the plane. 

On Friday morning Chinese health officials said the death toll in the country from the virus had risen to 213, up from 170 a day earlier.

The number of known cases in the nation had risen from 7,711 to 9,692, officials said.

No deaths have occurred outside China.

However, at least 82 cases had been confirmed across 18 different countries ahead of the announcement of the infection in the UK.

Coronavirus outbreak: World Health Organisation declares global emergency

Prior to this, the UK’s four chief medical officers raised the risk level of the illness from low to moderate.

The World Health Organisation declared an international public health emergency  on Thursday night.

The body declared the virus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” which is defined as an “extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk… through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response”.

This story is being updated.


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