A ninth case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the UK, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the outbreak “could still go in any direction”.
The latest patient in England is being treated at a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
It is believed the case was detected in London, making it the first instance of coronavirus confirmed in the capital.
Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Witty said: “One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine.
“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.”
As with the previously confirmed cases, officials are working to identify contacts the latest patient had.
It comes as the two-week quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside of 83 UK nationals flown back to Britain from Wuhan is set to end on Thursday morning, amid reports they have all tested negative for the virus.
Kharn Lambert, one of the quarantined patients in Merseyside, confirmed the group were being released on Thursday and told the PA news agency: “I’m ecstatic and I’m so happy that everyone has come back with negative test results.”
Meanwhile, Steve Walsh, the businessman at the centre of the UK outbreak of coronavirus, has said he is “happy to be home” after being given the all-clear and then discharged from hospital.
Mr Walsh, a 53-year-old scout leader from Hove in East Sussex, contracted coronavirus on a business trip to Singapore – and is linked to five other people diagnosed with it in the UK.
On his way back to the UK from Singapore, he stopped off at a ski region in France, where five other Britons were subsequently infected with coronavirus, now also known as Covid-19.
Mr Walsh is also linked to a Briton taken ill in Majorca, taking the number of confirmed cases linked to him to 11.
In a statement on his release from hospital, Mr Walsh said: “I want to give a big thank you to the NHS who have been great throughout and my thoughts are with everyone around the world who continues to be affected by the virus.”
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, said Mr Walsh was discharged after two negative tests for coronavirus, 24 hours apart.
Update on #coronavirus:— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) February 12, 2020
A further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine. The individual acquired the virus in China.
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The WHO cautioned that while the number of newly confirmed cases reported in China has stabilised, it remains a threat.
“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing on Wednesday at which he said the organisation is developing a masterplan to tackle the virus, which will look at diagnositics and treatments.
A vaccine could be ready for human trials in three months from now, the briefing was told.
Dr Paul Cosford, from Public Health England, earlier told the BBC more cases of coronavirus in the UK are “highly likely”.
While researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have estimated the number of new coronavirus cases in Wuhan, could peak by the end of the month, the WHO said it is too early to make such a prediction.
Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, told Wednesday’s briefing: “I think it’s way too early to try and predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic.”
Elsewhere the a major technology show has been cancelled after a number of firms pulled out over coronavirus fears.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC), which had been due to take place in Barcelona at the end of the month, has in previous years attracted some 100,000 visitors, but organisers said it had become “impossible” to hold it this year due to “global concern” around the outbreak.
Of the nine people so far diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, two are GPs.
Officials know that the pair worked at a nursing home, Worthing Hospital A&E and two GP practices between them.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed on Wednesday it has traced and advised all close contacts of the two GPs, including about 12 patients.
Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said on Wednesday that a number of GPs from Brighton were among those staying in the French ski chalet with Mr Walsh.
He said one of those completed a locum shift at Worthing A&E last week and, as a precaution, the hospital has now “sent home for self-isolation a number of their staff from various departments of the hospital”.
As a result, the hospital is experiencing some staff shortages, he said.
Meanwhile, in Brighton, pupils at several schools have been told they could stay at home after reports that some teachers and families feared they had come into contact with the virus.
The Department for Education has issued advice to schools to follow instructions given by Public Health England regarding self-isolation for people who have recently travelled from Wuhan or specified countries.
There have been more than 44,700 cases of the virus in China, with more than 1,100 deaths.
In the rest of the world more than 400 cases have been confirmed across 24 countries.