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  1. ITV Report

Coronavirus passed on within UK for first time in 20th case

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

A patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first to catch the illness within the UK.

The development comes as the Government prepares to bring in new emergency powers to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

These will give schools, councils and other parts of the public sector powers to suspend laws – including health and safety measures – to cope with a pandemic, the PA News agency reports.

Public Health England (PHE) said the latest coronavirus case was a resident in Surrey and it was working with the county council to manage the situation.

People wearing face masks in Trafalgar Square, London. Credit: PA

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said it was not yet clear if the latest case of coronavirus had been transmitted "directly or indirectly" from somebody who had recently travelled abroad.

"This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun. The patient has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy's and St Thomas'."

The Government is said to be preparing to bring in new emergency powers to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Credit: PA

Surrey County Council's interim director of public health Ruth Hutchinson said: "Surrey County Council is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Surrey are protected.

"Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday morning, health minister Edward Argar refused to comment on reports that the first person to contract coronavirus in the UK also passed it on to their doctor.

A sign at Haslemere Health Centre in Surrey, which has closed temporarily for cleaning. Credit: PA

Haslemere Health Centre in Surrey was closed on Friday, with a statement on its website saying: "The surgery is temporarily closed today to enable a clean of the surgery as a routine precautionary measure.

"The practice will reopen on Saturday and patients will be advised if their appointment needs to be rearranged."

It comes as a British man who had been on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has died from coronavirus - the first in Briton to have died from covid-19.

The unnamed Briton is the first UK national to die from the disease. Credit: AP

The Japanese Ministry of Health said the man was the sixth person to have died on the ship, which has been quarantined off the coast of Japan.

The man is reported to be in his 70s and said to have lived abroad.

His death comes as the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales. Wales’s chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the first diagnosed patient in Wales had recently travelled back from Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe.

The prime minister said he "very much" regretted the loss of life but believed his government's response to the Diamond Princess outbreak was correct.

Boris Johnson said: "I think we were following the best medical advice... we think the best thing to do is not to move people around too much in the current situation," he said on Friday.

The prime minister said the coronavirus threat was now the government's "top priority" and urged Britons to wash their hands "for 20 seconds or more with hot water or soap."

In addition global stock markets are plunging amid concerns over the virus, with some suffering their worst week since the financial crisis of 2008.

  • Coronavirus: How to self-isolate

Italy has seen the largest European-outbreak of the virus, with at least 650 cases and 15 deaths.

On Friday, airline easyJet said it will be cancelling flights as a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, in a move which will particularly affect "those into and out of Italy".

China has so far reported nearly 80,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 3,000 deaths, while the virus has reached nearly 60 countries with more than 80 deaths.