A third patient with coronavirus confirmed in the UK is being treated at a London hospital.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement on Thursday that the individual did not acquire the virus in the UK.
It is understood the patient arrived at Guy’s Hospital in London Bridge on Thursday afternoon and that the virus was contracted in an Asian country, but not in China.
The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton before being transferred. Two other patients are still being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Passengers who have arrived from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau, should contact the NHS 111 service.
Professor Whitty said: “The patient is being transferred to a specialist NHS centre, and we are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus.
“The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had.”
The Guardian reported the patient was diagnosed in Brighton and is being transferred to London, where there are infectious diseases units at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the Royal Free.
The two other confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were confirmed on Friday last week.
One is a student at the University of York and the other is one of their relatives.
They are being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, backed the claim that the NHS is equipped to deal with the third case.
He said: “It is not surprising to see a third case, it has been expected that the UK would see more than just the two previous cases.
“Therefore, public health and NHS authorities will be well prepared to deal with and follow-up on this news.”
He added: “Clearly the outbreak is at a very important point, both globally and here in the UK. It looks at this stage like the infection is imported, rather than acquired through human-to-human transmission within the UK.
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“So far, outside of China, there has been very limited human transmission of the coronavirus, which is good news in terms of potentially being able to contain the international spread.”
By Thursday, the worldwide death toll from the virus had risen to 565, with 28,273 confirmed cases. The majority of deaths have been in China.
More than 80 UK citizens and family members who were the first to be quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral have been told they can leave next Thursday.
The group is spending 14 days in isolation but will be released as long as they remain symptom-free.
Meanwhile, 78 people with British passports – including crew – are currently in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, sources told the PA news agency.