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Coronavirus: Thirteen more cases confirmed in UK

Twelve more people in England and one in Scotland have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of UK cases to 36.

Some people in the UK have begun wearing masks as the number of cases increases
Some people in the UK have begun wearing masks as the number of cases increases

Scotland confirmed that its first patient was a Tayside resident who recently returned from Italy.

Three of the new cases in England were linked to a man from Surrey, who was the first to be infected within the UK.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was still in the “containment” phase of the outbreak.

He said the government contingency plans, which will be published this week, included banning big events.

The Scottish government confirmed its first case on Sunday evening. It said the patient was receiving treatment in isolation in hospital.

Three of the new cases revealed on Sunday were close contacts of the man from Surrey, who was announced as testing positive on Friday.

They included another person from Surrey and two people from West Sussex who were all “part of an adult family cluster”, Public Health England said.

Another new case from Essex had “no relevant travel” and it was unclear how they had contracted the virus.

The remaining eight had visited affected areas – six to Italy, and two to Iran. They were from London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire, and included:

  • One person from Bury, who had become infected in Italy.
  • Two Leeds residents, who had both been in Iran
  • One person from Bradford, who had travelled to Italy
  • Someone from Gloucestershire – infected in northern Italy – who is linked to another case from the area announced on Saturday

Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said all of the newly identified cases were being investigated and health officials had begun tracing anyone who had close contact with them.

As of 09:00 GMT on Sunday, the Department of Health said a total of 11,750 people had been tested in the UK.

The latest positive tests come after three more cases were confirmed in England on Saturday.

One of those was a member of staff at St Mary’s School in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, the primary school said on Sunday.

That follows another school – Willow Bank Infant School in Woodley, Berkshire – confirming that one of its staff had been infected.

The government has said no tactics will be “off the table” as part of its plan to contain the virus in the UK.

Mr Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show an emergency “battle plan”, drawn up for the “worst case scenario”, includes banning big events, closing schools and dissuading people from using public transport.

The health secretary said there were four phases to the plan:

  • Containment – caring for any infected people and identifying their close contacts
  • Delay – deciding what actions to take to slow down the spread
  • Mitigation – damage limitation if the virus spreads widely
  • Research – constant and ongoing work to inform the three other phases

Currently, the UK is in the “containment” phase – which health leaders say may still be sufficient.

But the next phase could see broader “social distancing” measures.

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Hancock must give more detail of any emergency powers he wants to bring in so that MPs “can properly scrutinise” the plans.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has written to the health secretary to urge him to make sure people are paid if they have to self-isolate, otherwise there could be “devastating” effects.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee on Monday, visited Public Health England’s centre in north London on Sunday to discuss attempts to limit the spread of the virus.

He said the virus was “likely to spread a bit more” but he was “very, very confident” the NHS would be able to cope with an outbreak.

More than 200 British holidaymakers locked down at a quarantined hotel in Tenerife have been told they will be allowed to fly home, if they test negative for the virus.

The travellers have been quarantined at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel since Tuesday after four Italians contracted the virus. Some have already been allowed to leave but others are awaiting test results.

The Foreign Office is in contact with operators and travel agents about their plans to return Britons to the UK. BBC News

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