Coronavirus: More than 200 people test positive in UK

By Tom Pilgrim, PA

More than 200 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the Department of Health has said.

In total, 206 people had tested positive for Covid-19 as of 7am on Saturday, a rise of 42 from the 164 cases which had been confirmed by Friday evening.

The Department of Health said more than 21,000 people had been tested for the virus.

On Saturday evening, a further three cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland – bringing the UK total to 209.

Overall, there are 184 confirmed cases in England, 16 in Scotland, seven in Northern Ireland and two in Wales.

The updated figures come as US authorities prepare to respond to a coronavirus-hit cruise ship carrying British passengers off the Californian coast, after 21 people on board tested positive for the illness.

US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Friday that the Grand Princess, carrying more than 3,500 people on board, including 140 Britons, had been directed to a non-commercial port for testing.

Meanwhile in the UK, the public has been told to prepare itself in case “social distancing” policies are needed to help contain the spread of the virus.

On Friday, it was confirmed that a man in his early 80s had become the second person to die in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus.

The man, who had underlying health conditions, died on Thursday while being treated at Milton Keynes University Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital on behalf of his family on Saturday paid tribute to him as a “truly loving and wonderful person”.

“He was 83-years-old and a wonderful husband, dad, grandad and great-grandad who would go to any lengths to support and protect his family,” they said.

The family, who currently do not want to be identified, said they had been tested and told to self-isolate as a precaution.

They also said they had not already spoken to any media outlets “contrary to what has been reported”.

“This whole nightmare is not something that we or our loved one asked for,” they said.

“As we are in isolation currently, we cannot arrange for him to be put to rest and with all the activity that is going around with regards to everyone’s concerns, we cannot grieve him as we would wish to.”

Their statement said that while their relative had tested positive for the virus, it had not been confirmed what the cause of his death was.

On Thursday evening another patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, became the first person in the UK to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19 while at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Total coronavirus cases in the UK

A second confirmed case of Covid-19 has been recorded in Cornwall.

Steve Brown, Cornwall Council’s Deputy Director of Public Health, said on Saturday: “The case is a resident directly linked to the initial diagnosis in Cornwall, who had also travelled to Northern Italy.”

Public Health England (PHE) is contacting people who have had close contact with a second confirmed coronavirus case in Nottingham.

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, Centre Director, Public Health England East Midlands, said the Nottingham resident was a family member of the city’s first case, who recently returned from South Korea.

PHE is also contacting people who had close contact with a Leicestershire resident who is one of the latest confirmed cases of Covid-19.

In Scotland, five more people have been diagnosed with coronavirus, with a total of 16 now confirmed.

Two new cases, confirmed on Saturday by the Scottish Government, have been reported in Lanarkshire, with an increase of one case in Lothian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Grampian.

So far 45 people on board the Grand Princess have been tested for coronavirus, with 19 of those diagnosed with the virus being crew members.

Empty toilet roll shelves in a Waitrose in Maidenhead, Berkshire, as coronavirus cases in the UK rise (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A spokesman for Princess Cruises, which owns the Grand Princess, said it was working with US authorities and awaiting a plan for the ship’s future positioning.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “Our staff are in touch with the local authorities in the US and with the Grand Princess cruise ship.

“We stand ready to provide support to any British nationals on board who may require our assistance.”

Globally, the number of reported coronavirus cases has risen past 100,000, with more than 3,400 deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday as officials prepare to accelerate work on the delay phase of the Government’s plan to tackle the virus.

Sports governing bodies and broadcasters have also been called to a Government meeting on Monday to discuss how to handle the outbreak’s possible impact on the sporting calendar.

Meanwhile, PHE has said people may need to help older relatives and neighbours obtain food supplies if social distancing measures, such as not going to cinemas, pubs or sporting events, are put in place.