Three new coronavirus patients in UK as Ireland reports first case

PA

Three more patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, including a staff member at an infant school in Berkshire.

Willow Bank Infant School headteacher Michelle Masters informed parents on Saturday that a staff member had tested positive for the strain of coronavirus known as Covid-19.

In an email, Ms 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.

Health officials are also tracing anyone who had close contact with a patient from the Cotswolds area, while one patient was identified in Gloucestershire and another was confirmed in Hertfordshire.

As of 9am on Saturday, more than 10,000 people in the UK had been tested for the virus, also known as Covid-19 – with 23 confirmed as positive.

【ギャラリー】Coronavirus continues to spread across globe172

Two of the patients had recently travelled back from Italy while the other had returned from Asia, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK is now 23.

The Irish Republic reported its first case of the virus on Saturday, where a man in the eastern part of the island tested positive after travelling from an affected area in Italy.

It comes as Donald Trump banned travel to Iran after America reported its first death from the virus, also known as Covid-19.

The US president added that he was considering additional restrictions, including closing the border with Mexico in response to the outbreak.

In the UK, Debra Lapthorne, centre director for Public Health England (PHE) South West, said the patient identified in Gloucestershire was a resident in the Cotswolds area.

People wearing face masks in Trafalgar Square, London (Yui Mok/PA)


She said the patient became infected whilst in Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe.

The two other latest cases in England are being investigated and any individuals who had contact with the patients are being traced.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Prof Whitty and Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Saturday, with another call expected to take place on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the husband of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes she has contracted coronavirus at the prison where she is being held.

It comes as the Government prepares to bring in new emergency powers to help stop the virus spreading.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife has repeatedly asked to be tested for the virus at the Evin prison in Tehran after suffering from a "strange cold".

Although there are currently no confirmed cases at the prison, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across Iran – with at least 43 dead amid 593 patients identified.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has called on the Iranian government to "immediately allow" health professionals into the prison to assess British-Iranian dual nationals.

Holiday operator Tui said it would be making arrangements for Britons at a coronavirus-stricken hotel in Tenerife who test negative to return to the UK.

Guests at the four-star H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel were told they would be in quarantine until March 10, after at least four holidaymakers were diagnosed with Covid-19.

Spanish authorities have since said the risk of infection for any Britons staying at the hotel was low.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been quarantined off Japan's coast (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

It comes amid reports that a fifth man at the hotel has tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, health officials are continuing to establish how a patient in Surrey became the first to catch the illness within the UK.

It was not clear if the patient had contracted the virus "directly or indirectly" from somebody who had recently travelled abroad, Prof Whitty said on Friday.

Haslemere Health Centre in Surrey reopened on Saturday morning after it was temporarily closed for cleaning as a "precautionary measure".

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, said on Twitter he was thinking of "clinicians, staff and patients" at the surgery during this "worrying time".

Also in Haslemere, the Prince of Wales pub said on Facebook it was closed until further notice because "a customer who visited us has tested positive for coronavirus".

The pub landlords added that they had no symptoms of the virus and that it was a "precautionary measure only".

As of 9am on Saturday, more than 10,000 people in the UK had been tested for coronavirus.

The number of people sickened by the virus has climbed to more than 85,000 globally and there have been more than 2,850 deaths, most of them in China.