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British man in Japan becomes first to die from coronavirus
Number of UK cases is now 19
Victim is sixth fatality from Diamond Princess cruise ship
Major events could face cancellations for next two months
China has now reported 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths
Outside China, nearly 60 countries now have virus, with more than 80 deaths.
A British man who was on board the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship has died from coronavirus.
He is the first British national to die from the virus, also known as Covid-19.
The Japanese Ministry of Health said the man was the sixth person from ship, which has been quarantined off the country’s coast amid the outbreak, to have died.
When asked if the Government should have repatriated people from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess sooner, Boris Johnson said it had been following the “best medical advice”.
He said: “We very much regret the loss of life of the individual concerned but we think that the best thing to do is not to move people around too much in the current situation.
“Not to repatriate unless you can be absolutely sure there is not going to be a spread or contagion to this country, so that’s the principle we are adopting.”
A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities.
“Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
A total of 19 cases have been confirmed in the UK.
Health authorities ordered a 14-day quarantine for everyone on board the Diamond Princess, which had an original population of 3,711 passengers, on February 5.
Passengers who had tested negative were allowed to disembark at the end of the two weeks.
A family member of David and Sally Abel, who had been on board the ship and were both diagnosed with coronavirus, confirmed the couple were “doing well and fighting fit”, adding: “They are getting stronger every day.”
The male victim is thought to be one of four Britons told to stay in Japan after testing positive for the virus.
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.
PM under fire
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been criticised for waiting until next week to chair his first meeting of the Government’s Cobra contingencies committee on the coronavirus outbreak.
Downing Street said officials from the Department of Health, Public Health England and other relevant departments were meeting on a daily basis to discuss the crisis, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been chairing a weekly Cobra meeting.
A PM spokesman also disclosed that Mr Johnson had spent half of the night shift on Thursday visiting Kettering Hospital where senior clinicians had talked him through their preparations.
But Labour again accused Mr Johnson of acting as a “part-time prime minister”, saying he should be taking action immediately to take control of the situation.
Virus ‘will spread’
England’s chief medical officer has warned it is “just a matter of time” until coronavirus spreads in the UK.
Experts have warned of school closures and cancelled sporting events as the disease spreads across the globe.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, said on Thursday that there could be a “social cost” if the virus intensifies, including school closures for more than two months.
He told the Nuffield Trust summit: “One of the things that’s really clear with this virus, much more so than flu, is that anything we do we’re going to have to do for quite a long period of time, probably more than two months.”
Major public events in the upcoming social calendar include Glastonbury, where 135,000 tickets have sold, and Royal Ascot, which attracts 300,000 visitors in mid-June, but there is no suggestion either will be affected.
Saudia Arabia, which contains Mecca, has closed its borders to foreign pilgrims ahead of Ramadan, while organisers of the MCM Comic Con London event said they are monitoring the spread of the virus ahead of the convention in May.
Euro 2020 is also set to bring together football fans across Europe in the summer.