The UK has reported 273 coronavirus cases and 3 deaths. Here's what we know about how the virus is spreading across Britain.
The UK had reported 273 coronavirus cases and three deaths linked to the virus as of Sunday afternoon. The deaths are an older woman with underlying health conditions in Reading, and a man in his 80s in Milton Keynes, and a man in his 60s with "significant" pre-existing health conditions. The UK's chief scientific adviser said that coronavirus outbreaks may become an annual event and that a vaccine is unlikely to be created this year. Officials are considering plans to order the public to work at home for at least three months.
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The UK has reported a total of 273 coronavirus cases and three deaths linked to the virus. A man in his 60s with "significant" pre-existing health conditions died at North Manchester General Hospital on Sunday. He was the third person to die in Britain as a result of the virus. An older woman with underlying health conditions died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on Thursday. A man in his 80s died at a hospital in Milton Keynes on Friday. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to delay rather than contain an epidemic. The coronavirus causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. More than 3,600 people have died and more than 106,000 others have been infected, mostly in China. Cases have been recorded in at least 105 countries. The UK has seen a rising number of cases of "community spread": people with no known exposure to others with the virus or travel history to countries where outbreaks have been reported. For the latest global case total, death toll, and travel information, see Business Insider's live updates here. Tom Colson and Alison Millington contributed reporting to this post.A man in his 60s is the third Brit to die after testing positive for coronavirus
A man in his 60s with "significant" underlying health conditions has died after testing positive for coronavirus, NHS England announced on Sunday. Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said: "I am very sorry to report that a third patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died. "I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected." The man died at North Manchester General Hospital. As of Sunday afternoon, there had been at least 273 cases in the UK, according to government figures.
A new figure of 273 positive cases was published on the official gov.uk website at around 9 a.m. on Sunday. This marked the largest single-day increase to date — up 64 from 209 on Saturday. Since Saturday morning, two more people have tested positive in Wales and three in Northern Ireland, while a student at Oxford University is self-isolating after testing positive. 5 new cases were reported in Scotland on Saturday afternoon.
According to the BBC, the five extra cases were confirmed by the Scottish government. Two are in Lanarkshire, the area south of Glasgow. One is in the greater Glasgow area, another in the Lothian area near Edinburgh, and the fifth further north in the Grampian region. It brings Scotland's total number of cases to 16. The second UK coronavirus death was confirmed as a man in his 80s.
A man in his 80s died at Milton Keynes hospital, England, on Friday, after contracting the coronavirus. The hospital confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus and died shortly afterwards. It follows the death of a woman on Thursday, who also died from COVID-19. The woman, who had underlying health conditions and was in her 70s, died in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, England. The latest count is a huge jump from the 164 confirmed UK coronavirus cases that were reported Saturday morning.
The Department of Health's update on Friday afternoon came amid reports of the second death in the UK linked to the virus. Johnson announced a £46 million package for accelerating efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine.
"Keeping the British people safe is my number one priority, and that's why I've set out our four-part plan to contain, delay, mitigate and research coronavirus," Johnson said in a statement on Friday. "We are ensuring the country is prepared for the current outbreak, guided by the science at every stage. But we also need to invest now in researching the vaccines that could help prevent future outbreaks. "I'm very proud that UK experts — backed by government funding — are on the front line of global efforts to do just that." UK airlines are running empty flights out of Europe.
Airlines operating out of Europe have run "ghost" flights, without any passengers on board, during the coronavirus outbreak to get around rules that could see them lose their flight slots. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to regulators asking for a suspension of the rules amid an increasingly gloomy outlook for the industry. The UK airline Flybe collapsed earlier this week, though it said its financial problems existed long before the outbreak. There is little chance of a coronavirus vaccine appearing this year.
The UK's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program on Friday that this coronavirus outbreak could become an annual outbreak. Vallance also said it's unlikely a vaccine will be created in time to contain this year's outbreak. "I don't think we'll get something in time and at scale for this outbreak," he said. "That said, there have been remarkable changes in the ability to make vaccines and discover vaccines just in the last few years. And so things have progressed much more quickly than they would have done in the past, and it's not unreasonable to assume that we will end up with a vaccine and we may do so in a year, 18 months." Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1235861256449298432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Sir Patrick Vallance - the UK's Chief Scientific Officer - has told #R4Today he doesn't believe a vaccine will be ready in time for the current #coronavirus outbreak. Read more: https://t.co/m4hYrZy6vR pic.twitter.com/wYjMNvbHWc British people with flu-like symptoms could be told to stay at home.
UK citizens with flu-like symptoms could be told to stay at home even if they haven't traveled to countries heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Other measures, including plans to reduce big gatherings, are also being considered. "You've got a range of things that you can do to arrest or check the spread of a disease," Johnson said this week. "But you can't fire your shots too early." Funerals could be livestreamed if the outbreak escalates.
Funerals could be affected by any ban on large public gatherings. The National Association of Funeral Directors told Sky News on Thursday that it had spoken with Johnson's government about the steps it could take if the outbreak becomes an epidemic in the UK. One option would be to livestream funerals, the group said. "As well as supporting the government and local authorities in managing the impact of the additional deaths, funeral directors would be focused on helping families who lose a loved one during that time in finding meaningful ways to say goodbye — even if the funeral they would have preferred isn't possible," the group told Sky News. "One option might include the webcasting of funeral services, as many crematoria now have these facilities — or holding a separate memorial service at a later date." Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty confirmed Britain's first coronavirus-related death on Thursday.
The woman was thought to have contracted the virus in the UK and hadn't traveled to other countries affected by the outbreak, suggesting it's spreading in the UK. "I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died," Whitty said. "I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected. "The patient, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions. We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already underway." In a statement, Johnson said his "sympathies are very much with the victim and their family." On Thursday, the number of cases in the UK was at 116.
The UK government on Thursday afternoon said the number of cases had risen to 116 from 87 on Wednesday. Of the cases, 100 were in England, with 25 reported in the capital, London. Eight of the new cases were not people who recently traveled. Whitty said it was "highly likely" that the virus is being spread in the UK by people who haven't traveled. He added that it was inevitable that the number of cases in the UK will rise and that it will almost certainly not be possible to prevent an outbreak. Johnson said school closures "don't work as well" as people might think.
Johnson has sought to play down the threat of the outbreak. "We need to strike a balance," Johnson told ITV's "Good Morning" on Thursday, adding that there was no need to close schools at this stage. "Slightly counterintuitively, things like closing schools and stopping big gatherings don't work as well, perhaps, as people think," he said. He added, "As far as possible, it should be business as usual for the vast majority of people." The British government has stopped trying to contain the virus and is now trying to delay it, Whitty said on Thursday.
Whitty said that containing the spread of the virus among the early few patients who caught it is very unlikely and that the government was focused on trying to delay the outbreak until the spring. Whitty said that approach — which overlaps in many ways with "contain" — had several benefits. Delaying could mean that the National Health Service is in a better position to respond and that the disease could be better managed, possibly with new drugs. Additionally, delaying an outbreak until the spring or summer could mean the rate of infection goes down, as is generally the case with flu. What measures are the government considering?
The government's action plan, published this week, outlined several measures that might be introduced if there is a major outbreak:
Reducing the number of big gatherings, such as Royal Ascot and the Glastonbury Festival, as well as football matches. Closing schools. Using the armed forces to support emergency services. Asking employees across the country to work from home, possibly for about 12 weeks. Expanding the public information campaign, which encourages people to wash their hands regularly with warm water.
How is the virus affecting the rest of Europe?
England's Six Nations rugby games against Italy in Rome on March 14 and 15 were postponed. Italy has put 16 million people on lockdown to control the escalating coronavirus outbreak as the country reports 5,883 COVID-19 cases and 233 deaths. All professional sports in Italy will be played behind closed doors for a month. Switzerland reported its first coronavirus death, a 74-year-old woman who died in hospital, on Thursday.
What advice is the government giving about avoiding the coronavirus?
According to the NHS, the best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus is to:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands when you get home or into work. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterward. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, a high temperature, and shortness of breath. They don't necessarily mean a person has the illness, however, as they are also similar to illnesses like the common cold or the flu.