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Coronavirus passed on within UK for first time as 20th case confirmed

The news comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus.

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People wearing face masks on the London Underground.

People wearing face masks on the London Underground.

People wearing face masks on the London Underground.

A patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first to catch the illness within the UK.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it was not yet clear if the virus had been passed on “directly or indirectly” from somebody who had recently travelled abroad.

It marked the 20th confirmed case in the UK – 18 of which were in England, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.

The news comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus.

The man, who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship was the sixth person from the vessel, which has been quarantined off the Japan’s coast amid the outbreak, to have died.

Confirming the latest case in England, Prof Whitty said: “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 Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the original source of the virus was “unclear”, adding that there was no “immediately identifiable link” to overseas travel.

According to Public Health England (PHE), one of the latest coronavirus cases was a resident in Surrey.

Dr Alison Barnett, centre director for PHE South East, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

“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.”

Haslemere Health Centre in the county was closed on Friday, with a statement on its website saying: “The surgery is temporarily closed today to enable a clean of the surgery as a routine precautionary measure. The practice will reopen on Saturday and patients will be advised if their appointment needs to be rearranged.”

Elsewhere on Friday, Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton, said that the first diagnosed patient in Wales had recently travelled back from Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe.

He told the PA news agency that the man had returned from a holiday there last week, and is now being treated at one of the specialist centres in an English hospital.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

In Tenerife, hundreds of guests have been confined to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace after at least four tourists, including an Italian doctor, were diagnosed with coronavirus.

However, six Britons were among those told they could leave on Friday by Spanish authorities because they arrived at the hotel on Monday – after those who tested positive had been taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, Labour have criticised Boris Johnson waiting until Monday to hold a meeting of the Government’s Cobra contingencies committee on the outbreak.

Northern Ireland reported its first case on Thursday, as someone who recently returned from northern Italy was diagnosed with the virus.

Irish health authorities said on Friday that people who had sat within two rows of the person on the flight from northern Italy to Dublin have been contacted.

Italy has become the worst-affected country in Europe, with at least 650 cases and 15 deaths.

On Friday, easyJet said it will be cancelling flights as a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, in a move which will particularly affect “those into and out of Italy”.

So far, China has reported nearly 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths, while the virus has reached nearly 60 countries with more than 80 deaths.

PA