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First UK coronavirus death is Diamond Princess ship passenger

First UK coronavirus death is Diamond Princess ship passenger

The UK’s 20th coronavirus case has tonight been confirmed and is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis. The patient, from Surrey, is understood to be a man treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’

The UK’s 20th coronavirus case has tonight been confirmed and is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis.

The patient, from Surrey, is understood to be a man treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London.  

It is not known whether the spreader who contaminated this man had arrived in the country from abroad – but authorities are now racing to track them to stop the number of infections rising further.  

Another patient confirmed yesterday is also believed to be from Surrey, having flown to the UK from virus-hit Milan. 

Haslemere Health Centre 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.’

Tonight’s confirmed diagnosis came after a flurry of cases sprouted up in the UK within 24 hours, including in Northern Ireland and Wales.  

A father-of-two in his 40s, from Swansea, was confirmed to be the first case in Wales after he returned from the Italian ski resort, Passo del Tonale, and fell ill yesterday. He was helicoptered to hospital and around a dozen of his friends are now in quarantine at home. 

Nobody in the UK has so far died from coronavirus, but today a British man quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship passed away in Japan. This first British fatality is understood to be a man in his 70s who did not live in the UK. 

Boris Johnson today broke his silence on the global health crisis and insisted preventing a major British outbreak was the government’s ‘top priority’. 

After being branded a ‘part-time prime minister’ for his slow response, he reassured the public that he had held meetings with the health secretary and chief medical officer, who tonight broke the news of the country’s 20th case. 

Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement: ‘One further patient in England has tested positive for COVID-19.

‘The virus was passed on in the UK. It is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. 

‘This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun. The patient has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

‘The total number of cases in England is now 18. Following confirmed cases in Northern Ireland and Wales, the total number of UK cases is 20.’

The UK's 20th coronavirus patient has been confirmed, marking the first case to have caught the infection on British soil

The UK’s 20th coronavirus patient has been confirmed, marking the first case to have caught the infection on British soil 

The patient, from Surrey, is understood to be a man treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London

The patient, from Surrey, is understood to be a man treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London

They contracted the illness in England before being rushed for treatment at Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London, the chief medical officer revealed tonight

They contracted the illness in England before being rushed for treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London, the chief medical officer revealed tonight

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. He was the first Briton to die in the crisis

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. He was the first Briton to die in the crisis

A woman wearing a face mask on a bus in London, where at the capital's flagship hospital the UK's 20th case is being treated

A woman wearing a face mask on a bus in London, where at the capital’s flagship hospital the UK’s 20th case is being treated

Boris breaks silence on coronavirus crisis 

Boris Johnson speaking this evening

Boris Johnson speaking this evening

Boris Johnson today broke his silence on the spiralling coronavirus crisis after national outrage for his slow response reached a crescendo.

The Prime Minister pushed back at accusations of inaction and weak leadership, insisting that preventing a British outbreak was the government’s ‘top priority’.

He said he had met with the chief medical officer and reassured the public that the NHS was equipped to deal with a coronavirus epidemic.

And he added that everyone could do their part by ‘washing our hands for twenty seconds or more with hot water and soap’. 

Mr Johnson has come under fire in recent days for bunkering down at his countryside residence in Kent rather than returning to Number 10 to lead the response against both the flooding and coronavirus.

This anger threatened to boil over today when it emerged he has scheduled a COBRA meeting for Monday, rather than calling a round-table of the government’s top officials immediately.

But the PM, who is now back in London, swatted away accusations of inaction when quizzed in a TV interview this evening.

He said: ‘On the issue of coronavirus, which obviously is a great concern to people, I just want to reassure everybody and say that the NHS is making every possible preparation.’ 

Experts reacted to tonight’s announcement by warning it ‘marked a new chapter’ in the UK’s battle against the global epidemic.

Prof Jonathan Ball, of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said ‘it will be crucial to understand where the infection came from to try and prevent more extensive spread’. 

‘This was always a concern – this is a virus that frequently causes symptoms very similar to mild flu or a common cold, and it’s easily transmitted from person to person. This means it can easily go under the radar.’

Dr Alison Barnett, centre director for PHE South East, said: ‘One of the latest cases is a resident of Surrey and we’re working closely with NHS colleagues in that area as well as Surrey County Council to manage the situation and help reduce the risk of further cases.

‘Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case.

‘This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.’

Although the Surrey patient has not been identified, the BBC reported he was a man and had been treated at the Haslemere clinic.

Mr Johnson 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.

If the patient is confirmed to be a doctor they would not be the first to have the infection – at least two medics in Brighton were infected in an early surge in cases after they went on holiday with a man known as a ‘super-spreader’.

Public Health England’s attempt to trace people who have been in contact with him is believed to include patients who had appointments this week.

Details have now emerged about Wales’s first coronavirus patient, who is a businessman and father-of-two and caught the killer illness on a family skiing holiday in northern Italy.

He has ‘has been out drinking and socialising’ since flying home and was rushed to hospital in a helicopter on Thursday night, neighbours said.  

At least a dozen people who came into close contact with the patient have been forced to self-isolate and are waiting on test results to see if they also have the deadly disease.  

‘A helicopter landed in the park outside and two ambulances arrived in the street outside his front door. I think the ambulance was there to transport him to the helicopter,’ one neighbour told The Sun.

Another family friend said: ‘I can’t believe it, we are all very worried for them and it’s worrying for us too. They’re such a lovely family and have two teenage children and they went skiing for half term. Now we know he has been infected everybody is getting advice on what to do.’

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 out
  • British airlines easyJet and British Airways have said they will start cancelling flights because of a fall in demand triggered by the global coronavirus crisis
  • 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
  • Pope Francis is still feeling ‘slightly unwell’ and has cancelled his official audiences today, the Vatican has said
  • Newcastle United Football Club have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid the fear of coronavirus
  • A 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.  

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. 

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.  

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.

Wales’ first coronavirus patient is a father-of-two businessman who caught the killer illness on a family skiing holiday in northern Italy who ‘has been out drinking and socialising’ since flying home.

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. 

Twenty 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

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’.

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

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

The crisis has rocked world financial markets and London’s FTSE100, which immediately dropped three per cent when it opened yesterday having had £200billion wiped off its value this week taking it to a low level last seen in the 2008 financial crash. 

Today Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the economy has already been hit and growth could be downgraded. 

Emergency plans are being drawn up by the authorities will be required if there is a global pandemic, but medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said they are not needed yet.

Professor Whitty is cautious about school closures unless absolutely necessary because of the huge impact on society and the economy.

He said: ‘We’re not saying we will do them, we have to look at them and say, ‘How likely are they to work?’.’ Yesterday, the Government announced there had been three more confirmed cases in the UK bringing the total number to 16, although there have not been any deaths. 

Health personnel wearing protection clothing assist guests as they leave the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain today

Health personnel wearing protection clothing assist guests as they leave the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain today 

EASYJET CANCELS ITALY FLIGHTS BECAUSE OF A SLUMP IN DEMAND… WHILE BA WARNS OF A DROP IN PROFITS

easyJet said it would start to cancel flights to Italy because demand had fallen so dramatically since coronavirus broke out in the north of the country

easyJet said it would start to cancel flights to Italy because demand had fallen so dramatically since coronavirus broke out in the north of the country

British airlines easyJet and British Airways 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.

Recent days have seen the spread of the virus slow down in China but speed up elsewhere in the world, and finally spread to South America and sub-Saharan Africa, making Antarctica the only untouched continent.

Buxton in Derbyshire is on lockdown as the GP surgery shut, a primary school closed and residents were left too afraid to visit the shops because of a confirmed coronavirus case in a parent who is thought to have travelled to a hotel in Tenerife which has been paralysed by the killer infection.

The unidentified patient is believed to have a child at Burbage Primary School in Buxton, whose headteacher today announced it had shut for a ‘deep clean’ because one of the ‘parent population’ was infected.

It’s thought they stayed at the four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in Tenerife, where hundreds of holidaymakers – including 160 Britons – are currently being quarantined because of an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

Zoe Jones, 26, saw several ambulances visit a property in town on Wednesday night. Paramedics in hazard-style suits helped a person into the vehicle and they were taken to a hospital in Liverpool.

Miss Jones, of Sandbach, Cheshire said: ‘I was coming home and two ambulances and two emergency response vehicles go past.

‘They weren’t going really fast but they had the blue lights on.

‘One ambulance was at the front and the emergency response teams were in the middle with the other ambulance at the back.

‘I thought it was a bit odd and wondered what was going on.’

She added: ‘They then stopped at a Morrisons supermarket car park. All the men got out and put on these white suits.

‘Then they went to a house and parked right by it. The police blocked off the road.

‘They brought someone out – they didn’t seems to need help. It was all a bit odd and I knew it was something to do with coronavirus.

‘I was really intrigued so followed them and they drove towards Liverpool. When they got to hospital a policeman opened a loading bay and they went up in that.’  

The Buxton primary school announced its decision to shut on Wednesday night and informed parents with a WhatsApp message. School bosses emphasised that the decision had been taken for the safety and protection of children and teachers. 

A second patient, believed to be a man from Surrey, was diagnosed yesterday after returning from a ski trip to northern Italy.

The third case was confirmed in Northern Ireland and the individual had also recently come back from northern Italy via Dublin.

It came as the World Health Organisation warned that many countries were ‘simply not ready’ to contain the virus.

Professor Whitty, who has been the chief medical officer since October, is in charge of drawing up the Government’s emergency plans for containing the virus.

Yesterday he shed light on some of the options being considered by officials, should the number of cases in the UK suddenly escalate.

He said at the Nuffield Trust Summit in Windsor, Berkshire, he thought it was only a ‘matter of time’ before Britons started catching the disease from each other on a larger scale.

This is known medically as ‘onward transmission’ and so far in the UK the cases have only occurred in individuals who have either been to a virus hotspot country themselves, or come into close contact with someone else who has. But Professor Whitty said: ‘If it is something that is containable, the UK can contain it. If it is not containable, it will be not containable everywhere and then it is coming our way.’ 

Britons have been rushing to buy canned food, bottled water and hand sanitiser. Some Superdrug and Boots stores have sold out of hand gels and face masks.

Pictures shared on social media showed empty shelves in shops with people also rushing to buy nappies and baby wipes and even stockpiling alcohol.

It also emerged yesterday that a suspected coronavirus patient had been told to sit in a packed hospital waiting room without a protective mask after he called 111.

Paul Godfrey, from Walsall, said he showed clear symptoms of the illness after returning from Milan but was told the city wasn’t on the ‘target list’. He took himself to Walsall Manor Hospital at 10.30am on Monday and waited for ten minutes with other patients before staff in hazmat suits then whisked him to an isolated cubicle.

Professor Whitty said the key was for scientists to now work out what could ‘delay’ or ‘flatten’ the outbreak. He added: ‘Everybody knows that the kinds of things you consider are reducing mass gatherings, school closures which may or may not be appropriate for this type of virus. We don’t know yet, we need to find that out.

‘There are several things – to be clear, we’re not saying we will do them, we have to look at them and say, ‘How likely are they to work and what’s our evidence base here? What’s the social cost of this?’

‘Because one of the things that’s clear with this virus, much more so than with the flu, is anything we do we’re going to have to do for quite a long time – probably more than two months.’

WHY VULNERABLE PATIENTS COULD BE ‘LEFT TO DIE’ IF CORONAVIRUS ESCALATES IN THE UK

In preparation for the 2009 Swine Flu  pandemic, the committee on Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza (CEAPI) developed an ethical framework in 2007 and this was based on the principle of ‘the three wise men’. 

This has since been reviewed post 2009, and the conclusions are that the framework remains appropriate to future pandemic management. 

According to the guidance, this means that: 

  • Everyone matters 
  • Everyone matters equally – but this does not mean that everyone is treated the same 
  • The interests of each person as the concern of all of us, and society 
  • The harm that might be suffered by every person matters, and so minimising the harm that a pandemic might cause is a central concern 

The Framework goes on to describe eight core principles: 

Respect 

Minimising the harm that a pandemic could cause 

  • Fairness 
  • Working together 
  • Reciprocity 
  • Keeping things in proportion 
  • Flexibility 
  • Good decision making 

Ethical considerations are important in determining how to make the fairest use of resources and capacity. 

Decisions should be in proportion to the demands of the pandemic and other existing pressures and should be aimed at minimising the overall harm caused by the pandemic. 

It should be noted that many people will also face personal dilemmas such as tensions between their personal and professional obligations.

The professor is understood to be only considering school closures if they are unavoidable. If that were to happen, many parents would be forced to take time off to look after their children including doctors, nurses and paramedics – who would otherwise be treating coronavirus patients – and social care workers.

However, thousands of schoolchildren across the UK could spend another day at home today after being sent by headteachers panicked by the virus fears.

Despite pleas from Health Secretary Matt Hancock not to close schools unless someone tested positive, the number closed entirely for the rest of the week reached double figures yesterday.

Among them is £19,000-a-year Dulwich Prep School in south-east London which blamed delays in NHS test results after several pupils fell ill after foreign holidays.

In Japan, authorities have ordered all schools to close until the end of March. And in France president Emmanuel Macron has also warned that the country was on the brink of an epidemic.

Dozens of British guests at a Tenerife hotel hit by a coronavirus outbreak were allowed to leave last night (THUR), prompting confusion over their fate between Spain and the UK.

Authorities on the island said that the group of 50 Britons had showed no symptoms and did not mix with the group of infected Italians who kick-started the scare.

But in a sign of mounting diplomatic tensions, the move caught British authorities by surprise and they were urgently seeking clarification about the situation last night (THUR).

It came only hours after the Government insisted there were no plans to bring more than 100 Britons trapped in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace back to the UK.

Those given permission to leave by Tenerife authorities had arrived at the hotel on Monday. It remains unclear if they will be asked to self-isolate upon returning to the UK.

The remaining 118 British guests at the hotel have criticised the quarantine conditions inside, with guests allowed to roam around freely and interact.

Some said they had been left ‘terrified’ after both Spanish and British authorities refused to say how long they will be locked inside.

BORIS JOHNSON FINALLY TAKES CHARGE OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS BY CHAIRING AN EMERGENCY MEETING

Boris Johnson in London yesterday, will chair a Cobra meeting on Coronavirus for the first time

Boris Johnson in London yesterday, will chair a Cobra meeting on Coronavirus for the first time

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking personal charge of the response to the coronavirus amid mounting fears that it will rampage through Europe.

The PM will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee on the crisis for the first time – but it will not happen until Monday.

Downing Street sources said Mr Johnson, who has up until now left Health Secretary Matt Hancock to head the response, was determined to ‘make sure everything that can be done is being done’. 

It is unusual for a Cobra meeting to be announced days in advance, but it is said to have been called on on Monday for ‘logistical’ reasons.

Concerns about the spread of the virus were heightened yesterday, when it emerged that one of two new cases in the UK was a guest who had already left the resort and returned home.

Despite the hotel scare entering its fourth day, Public Health England yesterday said it had sent a ‘health protection specialist’ to Spain to work with authorities.

‘This includes understanding spread of the virus within the hotel and how the Spanish authorities are monitoring the situation,’ the agency said.

A 60-year-old guest from Derbyshire last night called for the Government to ‘get us out of here’.

The businessman, on holiday with his wife, said that he had repeatedly asked the hotel and British consular staff to supply him with medication amid fears about his ‘deteriorating’ health.

He said: ‘There are some pretty angry Britons here. The mood is changing and we don’t feel safe here.’

‘The way this has been handled is not safe and inconsistent. We have a responsibility to Britain not to bring this back and if it goes anything like the cruise ship that’s more likely to happen.’

After initially being advised to stay in their rooms, guests at the hotel have been allowed to roam freely for the last 48 hours.

Lara Pennington, from Manchester, is staying at the hotel with her two young children and elderly parents-in-law, one of whom has an underlying heart condition.

She said: ‘We feel abandoned and are very frightened.’

A spokesman for the regional government said that none of the 700 estimated remaining guests who have been asked to take their temperature twice a day had shown any symptoms.

Downing Street defended the response to the situation saying that the Foreign Office had been in touch with more than 100 British nationals at the hotel.

AN FCO spokesman said: ‘We are urgently seeking clarification from the Canary Island authorities following their announcement that 130 tourists of different nationalities will be granted permission to leave the Costa Adeje Palace Hotel. We continue to offer support to all British nationals at the hotel.’

ONE OF THE SIX CASES IS A BUXTON MOTHER, 43, WHO WENT ON HOLIDAY TO TENERIFE 

The mother – believed to be the patient – has a child at the Burbage Primary School

The mother – believed to be the patient – has a child at the Burbage Primary School

The couple at the centre of the confirmed coronavirus case in Buxton are thought to be a 43-year-old administrative assistant and her boyfriend.

The mother – believed to be the patient – has a child at the Burbage Primary School, which was shut until Monday to undergo a deep clean.

It is understood the pair were rushed to hospital in Liverpool by medics dressed in hazmat suits late on Wednesday night.

Health officials confirmed the parent caught the virus in Tenerife. They are thought to have stayed at the quarantined H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel.

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.

The Derbyshire spa town yesterday went into lockdown as a GP surgery also shut its doors to patients because of a confirmed case.

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

Northern Ireland announced its first case of the deadly infection last night, which sources say is a woman who caught the virus in Italy.

Markets are quaking because of coronavirus’ spread, as it reached New Zealand and sub-Saharan Africa yesterday. Cases in Italy have hit 650.  

The US benchmark Dow Jones index fell by 4.4 per cent, or more than 1,100 points, the biggest one-day points drop in history.

It comes as almost £190billion has been wiped off the value of Britain’s biggest companies so far this week.

Warnings over the damage the virus could inflict on the global economy triggered panic selling, dragging the value of investments and pension funds down.

The FTSE 100 index, made up of the UK’s largest blue chip firms, yesterday fell to a 13-month low after its biggest percentage drop in four-and-a-half years. It shed 3.49 per cent, or £61.8billion, taking the total hit to £152.5billion so far this week.

The FTSE 350, which is made up of Britain’s biggest 350 firms, shed £77billion yesterday – taking the total fall to £188.6billon since markets opened on Monday.

Airlines and travel companies are among those worst hit as flights have been cancelled and businesses have imposed travel bans on staff. EasyJet lost a quarter of its value this week, falling almost 8 per cent yesterday. British Airways owner IAG was also down nearly 8 per cent while Tui fell 8.2 per cent.

Globally, more than £2.8trillion has been wiped off stockmarkets over the last six days of trading. European stocks slumped 10 per cent since hitting record highs last week. In the US the S&P 500 index suffered its worst day since 2011 as Wall Street was on course for its worst week since the financial crisis.

US President Donald Trump tried to calm the fears by vowing that the White House would ‘spend whatever’s appropriate’ to combat the turmoil.

Savings and pension firms have pleaded with customers not to panic as the value of their investments has fallen alarmingly.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the swings are ‘frightening but not unusual’. ‘This is not in the same league as some of the falls we have seen in the past,’ he said.

But with stockmarkets in turmoil, Aston Martin, brewing giant AB InBev and Microsoft joined a growing chorus of firms to warn of the virus’s impact on their businesses. AB InBev predicted its steepest decline in quarterly profit for at least a decade.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicted US companies would not post any growth in earnings this year due to the virus’s spread. 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

Nearly 3,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 83,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.

By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.

Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.

However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.



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