HEALTH chiefs tried to play down the panic by comparing coronavirus with other deadly outbreaks.
Casualty figures suggest that two to three per cent of carriers will die.
The fatality rate for Ebola was 70 per cent, rising to 90 in some areas.
Sars killed about ten per cent of victims.
A public health source said: “It’s clearly nasty but not so dangerous as Ebola and Sars.
The killer flu, believed to have been transmitted from snakes to humans at a market in Wuhan, has now definitely hit Europe, with France reporting three cases.
And the cross-Channel development has sparked fears it is only a matter of time before the infection is confirmed in the UK.
Border Force agents are continuing to try to track down some 2,000 people who have flown into the UK from Wuhan in the past two weeks. Health officials said they were trying to find “as many passengers as we can”.
‘No confirmed cases’
A Chicago woman in her 50s became the second US patient to test positive and is quarantined after returning from China. The US was also arranging a charter flight to bring back 230 citizens and diplomats from Wuhan.
Australia announced that a Chinese man in his 50s had returned from the country last Sunday with the virus, but is in a stable condition in a Melbourne hospital.
Cases have also been discovered in Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Coronavirus symptoms include tiredness, difficulty breathing, high temperature and a cough — but it can take three days to kick in after being infected.
The Department for Health said last night: “As of January 25, a total of 31 UK tests have concluded, of which 31 were confirmed negative and none positive. There are currently no confirmed cases in the UK or of UK citizens abroad, and the risk to the public is low.”
But England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was a “fair chance” cases will emerge in Britain.
“Everyone should take precautions and avoid infected areas but there is no need for alarm at this stage.”
Prof Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, said it is impossible to stop the virus reaching the UK, and that it could infect Brits for years.
He added: “There are a substantial number of people with business or family ties to China travelling back and forth. We can only try to contain the cases as they arrive.”