Sunday, December 5

Three more virus cases in England


 

 

Three more patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of UK cases to 23.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said two of the patients had recently travelled back from Italy while the other had returned from Asia.

The cases are from Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire. Prof Whitty said: All three are being investigated and contact tracing has begun.

It comes amid reports the government is to use a COBRA meeting on Monday, to agree emergency powers to ensure COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus does not get out of control.

Schools, councils and other institutions would be able to suspend some laws to cope with a pandemic.

The measures could also include allowing teachers and nursery workers to have larger classes to cope with staff absences.

Meanwhile, experts have said it is “crucial” to find out how the first person who caught the coronavirus within the UK was exposed to it, as authorities race to piece together their movements.

News of the domestic infection on Friday is a significant moment in the country’s battle to stop the coronavirus.

All the other UK cases had all been infected abroad. Contact tracing has started on the patient.

Prof Whitty said it was not clear whether the person had contracted it “directly or indirectly” from someone who had recently returned from abroad.

The patient, who lives in Surrey, has been taken to a specialist centre at Guy’s and St Thomas in London.

Haslemere Health Centre in Surrey was closed on Friday, with a statement on its website saying: The surgery is temporarily closed today to enable a clean of the surgery as a routine precautionary measure. The surgery has since re-opened.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • More than £200bn wiped off FTSE share index over virus fears
  • South Korea warns of “critical moment” and tells people to stay indoors this weekend
  • 85,406 suspected and confirmed cases worldwide, with 2,924 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the disease
  • Mexico, Iceland and Nigeria among nations to confirm first cases on Friday
  • Some UK tourists allowed to leave locked-down Tenerife hotel but Jet2 will not yet fly them home
  • California confirms second case in person who had not travelled or had contact with an infected patient

Boris Johnson, who will chair Monday’s COBRA meeting, has been accused of being slow to act over the outbreak, but he insisted it was Downing Street’s top priority.