The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK leapt to 35 after 12 new patients were identified in England.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said three of the patients were close contacts of a known Covid-19 case that was transmitted within the UK – believed to be a Surrey resident.
Another new patient, from Essex, has no relevant travel to an affected area, Prof Whitty said on Sunday.
He added investigations were ongoing as to whether the patient had contracted it “directly or indirectly” from an individual who had recently travelled abroad.
Of the eight remaining cases, six had recently travelled from Italy, while two had been in Iran.
These patients are from London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire.
One of the confirmed cases is in Bury, according to Bury Council, which said the patient had been taken to a specialist NHS infection centre.
Dr Will Welfare, interim deputy director of health protection for Public Health England North West, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with one of the latest confirmed cases of Covid-19.
“The case is a resident of Bury and became infected whilst in Italy. They are receiving care at an NHS specialist centre.”
Of the three cases in West Yorkshire, two are residents of Leeds who became infected in Iran, while one is from Bradford who had been in Italy – the worst-affected country in Europe.
Our Director of Public Health, @jimmcmanusph, is reassuring residents after two more coronavirus cases have been announced in Hertfordshire today by the Department of Health and Social Care, bringing the total in the county to three. https://t.co/O7Tlb0iJVN pic.twitter.com/4vxkmaLcge— Hertfordshire County Council (@hertscc) March 1, 2020
According to the director of public health for Hertfordshire County Council, two of the cases confirmed on Sunday are from the county.
In a statement, Jim McManus said: “These new cases of coronavirus are nothing unexpected.
“We fully anticipate an increase in numbers which is why our services have planned for, and are ready for, this situation.”
It follows another patient identified in Hertfordshire on Saturday.
All of the newly identified cases are being investigated and health officials have begun tracing anyone who had close contact with them.
As of 9am on Sunday, more than 11,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in the UK – with 35 confirmed as positive.
It comes after the Health Secretary conceded it was “inevitable” that the deadly virus would continue to spread across the UK.
Matt Hancock did not rule out following China’s lead in shutting down cities if the Covid-19 outbreak escalates, as he outlined a new “battle plan” by the Government on Sunday.
On isolating entire cities, as Chinese authorities did with Wuhan, Mr Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: “There is clearly a huge economic and social downside to that.
“But we don’t take anything off the table at this stage because you have to make sure you have all the tools available if that is what is necessary.”
The Republic of Ireland reported its first case on Saturday, while staff members at two separate schools in England were confirmed to have tested positive for Covid-19.
On Sunday, St Mary’s School in Tetbury confirmed that a case identified the day before in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, was a member of staff.
In a letter to parents, headteacher Mrs Jo Woolley said that while it was not necessary to close the school from a health perspective, it will close until at least Wednesday due to “operational difficulties” with staff members.
She said: “Whilst I fully understand this will cause anxiety amongst the school community, I can assure you all necessary steps are being taken to minimise risk to others.
“A deep clean of the school was carried out on Saturday February 29.
“All people who have had contact with the person have already been identified, contacted and know if they need to exclude themselves from school.”
Meanwhile, a staff member at an infant school in Berkshire was confirmed to have tested positive on Saturday.
In an email, Willow Bank Infant School headteacher Michelle Masters urged parents to “remain calm and follow the recommended hygiene procedures”.
“The school will be shut for some days to allow for a deep clean and to ensure that the risk of infection remain(s) low,” Ms Masters said.
A pub in Haslemere, Surrey, has been closed until further notice for deep cleaning after a customer “tested positive for coronavirus”.
A patient in the county was confirmed as the first to catch the illness within the UK on Friday.
The landlords of the Prince of Wales pub said on Facebook that they had no symptoms of the virus and that it was a “precautionary measure only”.
On Sunday, the Department of Health and Social Care announced every department will have a ministerial lead on the virus, and a cross-Whitehall “war room” is being set up to roll out an enhanced public information campaign.
Emergency powers designed to restrict Covid-19 if it becomes endemic, due to be announced this week, would only be “temporary”, said Mr Hancock.
He confirmed that “population distancing measures”, such as banning public gatherings and cancelling football matches, could be considered by the Government, while closing schools may be “necessary”.
He added the NHS was ready to deal with further cases of coronavirus, with more than 5,000 emergency critical care beds available.
The number of emergency meetings convened by the Government is to be increased, which comes amid criticism of Boris Johnson for failing to lead a Cobra contingencies committee on the outbreak until Monday.