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Fourth UK coronavirus case confirmed as evacuation plane lands

Another patient has tested positive for coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of UK cases to four, the chief medical officer has said.

Around 150 people evacuated from coronavirus-hit city Wuhan arrived for two weeks quarantine (PA Media)
Around 150 people evacuated from coronavirus-hit city Wuhan arrived for two weeks quarantine (PA Media)

Professor Chris Whitty said the new case is a known contact of a previously confirmed UK case and the virus was passed on in France.

It comes after around 200 British and foreign nationals evacuated from Wuhan on the UK’s final rescue flight arrived at RAF Brize Norton on Sunday.

There have been more than 37,000 cases of the virus globally, mostly in China, where it originated.

The death toll for coronavirus has now overtaken that of the Sars epidemic in 2003, according to health officials in China, reaching 813. In 2003, 774 people were killed by Sars.

In a statement on Sunday, Professor Whitty said the latest UK patient has been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at the Royal Free hospital in north London.

“We are now using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus,” he said.

“The NHS is extremely well prepared to manage these cases and treat them, and we are working quickly to identify any further contacts the patient has had.

“This patient followed NHS advice by self-isolating rather than going to A&E.”

Meanwhile, a British man has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Majorca after contact with a carrier in France.

The repatriation flight arrived at RAF Brize Norton at around 07:30 GMT on Sunday, carrying more than 200 British and foreign nationals.

The Foreign Office said the flight was the second and last flight chartered by the government out of Wuhan, the city where the new coronavirus emerged.

The passengers comprised 105 Britons and their family members as well as 95 Europeans. A total of 13 staff and medics were also on board the flight.

Evacuees were taken on eight coaches to a Milton Keynes conference centre and hotel for 14 days of quarantine. NHS staff in blue scrubs, gloves and masks met passengers as they disembarked from the coaches at around 10:30 GMT.

Passengers on the repatriation flight included UK and foreign nationals (PA Media)
Passengers on the repatriation flight included UK and foreign nationals (PA Media)

The UK’s ambassador to Beijing, Dame Barbara Woodward, told the BBC that two British people who wanted to join the flight were not allowed to board after failing temperature checks in China.

Elsewhere, the government in the Balearic Islands confirmed on Sunday a British man has tested positive for coronavirus.

He was admitted to hospital in Palma on Friday, along with his wife and two daughters. The rest of his family have tested negative for the virus.

The local health ministry said an investigation into cases that may have had contact with the man has begun.

More than 100 UK nationals and family members have already been evacuated to Britain on flights chartered by the UK and other countries.

They are being held in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral.

The latest returnees will be housed at Kents Hill Park conference centre and hotel, where they will remain in isolation for two weeks – the incubation period of the virus – to ensure they are not infected.

Kents Hill Park
Kents Hill Park

At the hotel, they will have access to Netflix, magazines, books, baby equipment including highchairs, children’s toys and games, mobile phones, and tablets for reading, games, and browsing the internet, the NHS said.

Clothing and toiletries have been laid out for their arrival. Passengers on the previous flight said they were only allowed to travel with a 15kg (33lb) cabin bag.

The flight follows the decision by the Foreign Office on 4 February to advise all Britons to leave China if they can.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have suspended all flights to and from mainland China, while other carriers continue to operate flights between the UK and China.

China’s National Health Commission said total cases in the country from the virus had reached 37,198 on Sunday morning.

Outside of China, 288 cases have been confirmed in 24 countries, according to the World Health Organization. All the fatal cases have been in China and Hong Kong apart from one in the Philippines.

In the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care said that 686 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus as of Saturday afternoon.

The virus causes severe short-term infection of the airways, and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. Most people are likely to fully recover – just as they would from the flu.

Two of the UK coronavirus cases – both Chinese nationals – are being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

After the third case was confirmed, it emerged that the British man had been exposed to the virus in Singapore and stopped at a ski resort in France before returning home.

There, five more Britons – four adults and a nine-year-old boy – staying at the same chalet in the Alps tested positive for the virus.

A student at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy in Brighton is self-isolating for 14 days following advice from Public Health England. BBC News