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Coronavirus: Biggest daily rise as UK cases reach 460

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK has now reached 460, after the biggest rise in a single day.

CoronavirusIt comes as two more people with the virus died in the UK, bringing the total to eight.

One was in their 70s and had underlying health conditions in Dudley, while the other, in Nuneaton, was elderly and had a number of serious health conditions.

It comes as the World Health Organization upgraded the status of the outbreak to a pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs he was meeting the opposition “first thing” on Thursday to discuss emergency laws that will be set out next week, adding: “The best way for us to beat it is for us to work together.”

The legislation will include measures to keep public services running, help businesses, and ensure the adult social care sector is ready.

He said Parliament would stay open, since “the public will expect Parliament to sit and to get on with its job”, and the prime minister would chair a further meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra meeting on Thursday.

The two latest deaths were announced on Wednesday by George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

Meanwhile, a 53-year-old British woman has become the first person with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, to die in Indonesia, according to local media reports.

It is not clear whether the woman – who was reportedly critically ill with multiple health conditions – died due to the virus.

A flight carrying about 135 British passengers and crew members from the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship in California has landed in Birmingham.

Passengers were wearing face masks as they were led off the plane at Birmingham Airport and onto coaches by officials wearing hazmat suits. They are all being asked to self-isolate.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health confirmed there had been 83 more cases since Tuesday. In all, 27,476 people have been tested so far.

Later, Wales confirmed four new cases.

There are now 387 confirmed cases in England, 36 in Scotland, 18 in Northern Ireland and 19 in Wales.

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Scotland and Wales have also seen their first cases of community transmission – meaning the virus was contracted in the UK and is unrelated to travel.

Of the cases in England, London has the highest number, with 104. South-east England is the next highest infected area, with 60 cases, followed by south-west England with 44 cases.

One case has been confirmed in a council-run care home in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The patient has been taken to hospital.

NHS England plans to expand the number of people it can test in a day to 10,000, up from 1,500.

It is expected that confirmation of positive test results will be sped up in the UK with most people receiving them within 24 hours.

Earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the Budget and pledged the NHS would get “whatever resources it needs” during the crisis – whether it needed “millions of pounds or billions”.

He said workers who fell ill would be able to get a sick note by ringing 111 rather than visiting a GP, and people who were self-employed who were off work because of the virus would be eligible for benefits from day one.

For businesses, Mr Sunak promised a temporary coronavirus loan scheme to help small and medium-sized companies and said the government would rebate firms with up to 250 people for the cost of statutory sick pay.

Advice to tourists in Italy

The Foreign Office has issued a travel update for British nationals in Italy, urging all remaining tourists to contact their airline operators and return back to the UK.

People were still able to leave Italy without restrictions and airports were still open, the Foreign Office added.

Italy is the European country worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with the whole of the country currently in lockdown.

Earlier this week, tourist Hannah Butcher from Newbury, who was in Rome, said it was “the weirdest holiday” she had ever been on, with one-in one-out rules to get into shops and families having to sit apart in restaurants.

The UK is currently in the “contain” phase of its four-part plan to deal with coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19.

Later on Wednesday, Boris Johnson is expected to welcome tech companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to No 10 to discuss efforts to tackle fake news about coronavirus and how to keep the public informed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will also give a statement to MPs.

Mr Johnson shared a video on social media of a chat he had with England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries, who said the UK is not banning large gatherings because officials are “following the science”.

In other developments:

  • The bank Barclay’s is deep cleaning its London office in Canary Wharf after an employee tested positive
  • The chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens announced plans to invite “up to 18,000 third year undergraduate nurses to help out on the frontline”
  • Uber has said any driver or delivery person with coronavirus will receive “financial assistance for up to 14 days” – although it is not clear how much
  • Conservative health minister Nadine Dorries and one of her staff members have tested positive for the virus. A Labour MP and a constituent who came in to contact with the minister are self-isolating. The government said there were no plans to test any ministers or the prime minister, Mr Johnson, and Mr Hancock said he did not need to be tested
  • The Bank of England earlier announced an emergency cut in interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Manchester City’s Premier League match against Arsenal on Wednesday has been postponed as several Arsenal players are in self-isolation after coming into contact with Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who tested positive for the virus
  • Ireland has recorded its first coronavirus-related death, after a patient died in the east of the country on Wednesday. BBC News