Boris Johnson told the British public on Friday to wash their hands to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Recently-retired doctors and nurses could be asked to return to work in the NHS as part of the UK government’s “battle plan” if the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

As the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 23 yesterday, the government revealed its contingency proposals, which could see Britons being urged to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has admitted more cases are “likely” in the US after the country recorded its first death from the outbreak in the state of Washington.

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PM says virus will likely ‘spread a bit more’ after UK records largest jump in new cases

“We’ve found about 35 people in this country have, or have had, the illness,” Boris Johnson said during a visit to a public health facility in north London.

“Clearly there may be more, that’s likely to spread a bit more, and it’s vital therefore that people understand that we do have a great plan, a plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus.”

“And I am very, very confident that in the NHS we have the professionals who will be well able to cope with it.”

Italy death toll reaches 34 as cases soar by 40 per cent

Five people have died the past 24 hours after contracting the virus, Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, with some 1,694 people found to be infected – a spike of 40 per cent.

Of those infected, 83 people had recovered. The contagion came to light 10 days ago and is focused on a handful of hotspots in the north of Italy with isolated cases reported in many other regions. 

Dominican Republic reports first case

A 62-year-old Italian citizen has is the first person discovered to be suffering with the virus in the Caribbean nation, which shares an island with Haiti.

The man arrived in the country on 22 February without showing symptoms, public health minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said. He was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and “has not shown serious complications”.

The announcement came shortly before the Braemar cruise ship that had been denied entry to the Dominican Republic due to the virus fears apparently at last found a place to dock — the Dutch territory of St. Maarten.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said at least some of the passengers would be flown to Britain aboard chartered airliners.

Still unclear how first US person to die from coronavirus contracted disease, senior official admits

The US health secretary has admitted it is unclear how the first American to die from coronavirus contracted the disease as there is no evidence he had a connection to someone who had travelled to an outbreak area.

Federal and state officials are continuing to investigate the case, Alex Azar told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.

However, Mr Azar has insisted that the risk to average Americans remains low and aggressive containment measures are in place – although more cases are likely.

New cases in Bahrain and Iraq as coronavirus spreads through Middle East

New cases of coronavirus linked to Iran have been reported in Bahrain and Iraq as the Middle East continued to grapple with one of the world’s worst outbreaks on Sunday.

Bahrain’s ministry of health has confirmed six new cases, raising the country’s total number to 47 cases, according to the state news agency.

The six cases were five Bahraini citizens and a Saudi national who arrived in Bahrain on indirect flights from Iran.

Iraq has also reported six new cases, bringing its total number of cases to 19, the country’s health ministry said.

The ministry said two of the six cases were in Baghdad, while the other four were in Sulaimaniya, and all the patients had recently returned from Iran.

South Korean sect leader could face homicide investigation over outbreak

The leader of a religious sect connected to South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak could face a homicide investigation over deaths from the disease, reports say.

Officials in the capital of Seoul have asked prosecutors to charge Lee Man-hee, the founder of the Shincheonji Church, and 11 other people who are accused of failing to provide accurate information for members who are linked to outbreak.

More than half of all infections in South Korea are believed to involve members of the Shincheonji Church, which is a fringe Christian group, or people who came into contact with them.

Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, wrote in a Facebook post that the church’s behaviour was tantamount to “murder through to wilful negligence”, the New York Times reported.

The church has said it is fully cooperating with the government as health officials attempt to trace infected people.

South Korea has 3,736 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 20 deaths, according to the WHO’s latest figures.

Source: AP

US health secretary defends Trump’s ‘hoax’ comment about coronavirus

The US health secretary has defended Donald Trump after the president referred to coronavirus as a “new hoax” by his opponents to undermine him.

The president has complained about Democrats who have criticised his administration’s response to the outbreak and accused them of “politicising” the issue.

On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked the health secretary, Alex Azar, if it was appropriate “in any way” for Mr Trump to use the word “hoax” in connection to the outbreak.

“He’s talking about the partisan sniping that we’re seeing,” Mr Azar replied, without saying if he thought it was appropriate for the president to use the word.

“It’s unnecessary, we don’t need to have this made into a political issue. We’re in a public health crisis here.”

Czech Republic reports first cases

The Czech Republic’s health minister has confirmed his country’s first three cases of coronavirus.

Health officials said at a news conference on Sunday that the three patients showed mild symptoms and had travelled from places in northern Italy, which currently has the worst outbreak in Europe.

All results negative after nearly 700 people tested for coronavirus in Scotland

Nearly 700 people have been tested for coronavirus in Scotland, with all results coming back negative so far, as 12 new cases were identified in England on Sunday.

The Scottish government has said 698 tests have been carried out, up from 630 on Saturday.

Although there have been no confirmed cases yet, health officials in Scotland have decided to begin testing some people with flu-like symptoms for the virus even if they have not visited affected areas.

“Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine,” Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said.

“Early detection measures will be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in the event of an outbreak.

“Hospitals and GP surgeries will now conduct tests on some patients with coughs, fevers or shortness of breath – regardless of whether they have travelled to a place where the virus is known to be spreading.”

Dr Calderwood has also urged members of the public to follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Source: PA

Lebanon reports three new coronavirus cases

Three more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Lebanon after arriving from Iran, the country’s health ministry has said.

The new cases bring the total in the country to 10.

The three patients, who had been in isolation at home, were quarantined at a Beirut hospital after showing symptoms, the ministry said in a statement.

Lebanon is one of a number of countries which have closed schools this week and halted flights for non-residents from countries with major outbreaks, such as China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

US hopes to ‘radically’ expand number of diagnostic kits for coronavirus

The US has 75,000 diagnostic kits for testing coronavirus available at the moment and hopes to expand that number “radically” in coming weeks, the US health secretary has said.

Alex Azar told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that surveillance testing of flu-like symptoms was already underway in key urban areas, including San Francisco, but he hoped to expand such testing across the country.

Mr Azar added there was likely to be more community spreading of the virus in the United States and it was uncertain how large the outbreak would become. 

The US has 15 confirmed cases and 7 “presumptive positive” cases of coronavirus so far, according to the Centre for Disease Control.

Source: AP

Member of staff at school in Tetbury tests positive for coronavirus

A school in Tetbury has confirmed that a member of staff was one of the three people who tested positive for coronavirus in the UK on Saturday.

Jo Woolley, the headteacher of St Mary’s School, said in a letter to parents on Sunday that while it was not necessary to close the school from a health perspective, it will close until at least Wednesday due to “operational difficulties” with staff members.

“Whilst I fully understand this will cause anxiety amongst the school community, I can assure you all necessary steps are being taken to minimise risk to others,” Ms Woolley said.

“A deep clean of the school was carried out on Saturday 29 February.

“All people who have had contact with the person have already been identified, contacted and know if they need to exclude themselves from school.”

Berkshire school to close tomorrow for coronavirus ‘deep clean’

A Berkshire school will close on Monday after a case of coronavirus was confirmed involving a person who had recently attended its premises.

Aldryngton Primary School in Reading will close in order for a “deep clean” to be carried out as a precautionary measure, the school’s headteacher said.

“I have been informed that a case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the local area and that the person concerned attended the training hosted by Aldryngton last Tuesday,” Elaine Stewart wrote in a letter to parents on Sunday.

“I have taken advice from Public Health England and as a consequence the decision has been made to close the school tomorrow in order that a deep clean of the school can be carried out.”

Ms Stewart said the school would re-open on Tuesday.

“Although this news may give cause for concern, we have been assured that the risk level is very low. The Local Authority is aware of the school’s decision and is fully supportive,” she added.

Nigeria identifies 100 people who may have been exposed to coronavirus patient

Authorities in Nigeria have identified about 100 people who may have been exposed to an Italian man who is the country’s first coronavirus patient, the Lagos state health commissioner has said.

The health official did not rule out the possibility of that number increasing and warned some of the people identified had already travelled to other states in Nigeria or gone to Europe.

“It is around 100 people but that number is increasing every minute,” Akin Abayomi, the commissioner, said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Source: EPA

Task of contact tracing for first Ireland case ‘complex and ongoing’

Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer has said the task of tracing those who have had contact with the country’s first coronavirus case is “complex” and “ongoing”.

Dr Ronan Glynn said on Sunday that the risk in Ireland remained low but it was possible measures such as school closures could be required if the situation significantly worsened.

“The process of contact tracing is a complex one, it only started less than 24 hours ago and is ongoing,” Dr Glynn told RTE Radio One.

“There is a whole range of risk assessments that underpin that contact tracing process. Public health doctors commenced it last night – it’s ongoing and I’m not in a position to give any more details than that.”

He added: “We’ve had one case, there is no evidence of community transmission so far in Ireland. It won’t be surprising if we have more cases.

“But the confirmation of the case here, and the case in Northern Ireland in the past number of days, does not change our risk status and does not change our approach.”

Dr Glynn added that people would not currently be exposing themselves to an increased risk if they attended large public gatherings in Ireland, such as this month’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.

Juventus quarantines youth team after opponents test positive for virus

The Italian football club Juventus has quarantined its entire under-23s squad after players for a recent opposing team tested positive for coronavirus.

The youth team played Pianese on 23 February and later learned that a number of the team’s players had contracted the virus.

No Juventus player has yet shown symptoms of the virus.

Our deputy sports editor, Luke Brown, has the full story below:

Donald Trump has said travellers from “high risk” areas will be screened for coronavirus upon arriving to the US.

Twelve new cases of coronavirus in UK, chief medical officer confirms

Twelve more people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total of cases in the country to 35, the UK’s chief medical officer has said.

Professor Chris Whitty said eight of the 12 infected people had recently travelled to either Italy or Iran.

It is unclear how one patient – a resident from Essex – contracted the virus as they had not travelled to a country affected by the virus recently.

A statement said:

“Three patients were close contacts of a known case, transmitted in the UK, identified as part of contact tracing.

“One patient, resident in Essex, had no relevant travel and it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad; investigations are ongoing.

“Of the remaining eight cases, six had recently travelled from Italy and two from Iran.”

Mr Whitty added:

“The patients who have recently travelled are from London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire. All are being investigated and contact tracing has begun.”

France closes Louvre Museum in Paris over outbreak fears

The Louvre Museum in Paris has been shut down due to coronavirus fears as workers have spoken of their concern about the possibility of infection from visitors.

Workers who guard the Louvre’s art have said they are worried about being contaminated due to the large number of visitors from around the world at the museum.

“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative, said.

“The risk is very, very, very great.”

Although there are no known virus infections among the museum’s 2,300 workers, Mr Sacristin said it was “only a question of time”.

A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, would-be visitors were still queuing to get inside.

Technology companies shut factories in South Korea after outbreak

Samsung Electronics and LG Innotek have shut factories in South Korea after workers tested positive for the coronavirus, the companies have said.

Samsung’s mobile device factory in Gumi, close to the virus-hit city of Daegu, will be closed until Sunday evening for disinfection work, a company statement said.

The floor where the infected employee worked will apparently reopen on Tuesday afternoon.

An employee tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, Samsung said.

The factory, which was also closed temporarily last month following an earlier case, makes some of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 premium phones.

Meanwhile, LG Innoteck, which supplies camera modules for Apple’s iPhones, shut down its factory in Gumi on Sunday after one of its workers was confirmed to have contracted the virus, a company official said.

The plant will be closed on Monday for disinfection, the official added.