Coronavirus: UK declares 'serious and imminent' threat to public health as virus continues to spread

Four more people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK it has been confirmed (image:EPA)

The spread of coronavirus has been declared a "serious and imminent threat" to the British public after a patient in isolation threatened to 'flee'.

The announcement by Matt Hancock on Monday gives the government additional powers to forcibly quarantine people with coronavirus, which originated in a market in Wuhan, China.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has doubled from four to eight. One of the latest groups to be diagnosed is a male doctor who was part of a group that were skiing in the resort near Chamonix with the man who is at the centre of the Brighton outbreak.

The four new cases – three men and one woman – were transferred from where they were diagnosed in Brighton to London over the weekend in order to receive specialist care.

A statement from The Secretary of State’s office said that regulations have been put in place to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.

It added: "The Secretary of State declares that the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health, and the measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus."

GP Practice in Brighton closed as a precaution

A GP practice in Brighton has been temporarily closed after a staff member tested positive virus.

Patients at the city's County Oak medical centre have been advised to contact the NHS 111 phone service if they have concerns.

More people test positive for coronavirus on cruise ship

Another 66 passengers onboard a luxury ship have tested positive for the coronavirus. The ship, which was quarantined in Japan last week, has brought the number of infected people on the cruise liner to 136.

Japanese health officials said the new diagnoses among 3,700 passengers and crew onboard the Diamond Princess included 45 people from Japan, 11 from the US, four from Australia, three from the Philippines and one each from Canada and Ukraine.

The vessel was quarantined when it arrived in Yokohama,Tokyo, early last week after it came to light that a passenger who had disembarked in Hong Kong late last month had tested positive for the virus which has infected more than 40,000 people and killed at least 908.

On Monday, a week into their 14-day quarantine, some of the passengers were trying to fight off boredom by reading, watching live coverage of the Oscars, playing games or napping.Others were looking disconsolate, with at least another nine days to go before they will be allowed to disembark.

Meanwhile, a team of experts from the World Health Organisation, led by SARS expert Dr Bruce Aylward, is arriving in Beijing on Monday to help assess the latest outbreak.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke to President Xi Jinping and Chinese ministers at the end of January and agreed to send an international mission, but it has taken nearly two weeks to get the government's green light on who was allowed to go.

The death rate for patients at the crux of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is nearly 20 per cent, scientists have said.

A study, carried out by researchers from Imperial College, London has found that the mortality rate for patients tested for the disease in Wuhan is 18 per cent.However, this currently does not account for those with mild symptoms.

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