Prime Minister Boris Johnson said slowing the spread of the coronavirus was now his government’s top priority, shortly after news on Friday that the first Briton had died of the disease after contracting it on a cruise ship moored in Japan.
The country was right to be concerned about the virus, he said, as the number of people infected in Britain rose to 20.
“The issue of coronavirus is something that is now the government’s top priority,” he told broadcasters in his first statement on the disease, adding that he would be chairing a meeting of ministers and officials on the subject on Monday.
Britain’s health ministry said the most recent person to be infected was the first to have caught the virus in Britain, rather than during a trip abroad, and that it was trying to find the source of the infection.
Mainland China – where the virus originated late last year – reported 327 new cases, the lowest since January 23, taking its tally to more than 78,800 cases with almost 2800 deaths.
However, the disease is now spreading across the globe, with the first case reported in Nigeria on Friday and 888 people infected in Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country.
Britain reported its first confirmed coronavirus case on Jan. 31 but there have been no deaths in the country so far. The British person who died was in Japan, where the Diamond Princess cruise ship had docked off Yokohama on February 3.
With panic over the spread of the coronavirus, it’s spread across the UK to Northern Ireland and Wales