The UK has confirmed four more cases of coronavirus – taking the total number of known infected patients to eight.
China has recorded 908 deaths and currently has over 40,000 cases of the deadly virus.
This morning, the government declared a “serious and imminent threat to public health” after a patient quarantined in Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside attempted to abscond.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the new measures this morning in an announcement that gives the government additional powers to fight the spread of the virus.
The increased risk level allows the government to legally forcibly hold a person in quarantine.
This morning’s announcement comes after 60 more people onboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive.
Meanwhile, authorities are trying to trace everyone who may have come into contact with a so-called ‘super-speader’ of coronavirus.
The man, who attended a business conference in Singapore, then went to a French ski resort before flying back to Britain on an easyJet plane.
He then attended the Grenadier Pub in Hove, Sussex. among other places, before developing symptoms and going to hospital to be tested.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
While a person with the virus can show no outward symptoms, early signs can include a fever, diarrhea, a dry cough, shortness of breath and general body aches.
Some patients also report feeling tired and confused.
More serious cases of the virus can lead to a high fever, kidney failure and pneumonia.
While the disease is being treated as an “imminent threat” in the UK, some of the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those seem in other respiratory conditions – such as the flu or the common cold.
What is the NHS advice?
If you have recently travelled to a high-risk area – or if you’ve been in contact with somebody who has – and you develop symptoms, you should contact NHS 111 for advice.
You should not go to the doctor or to hospital, as if you have the virus, you may risk spreading it to others.
The NHS is asking anybody who has recently travelled to Wuhan to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days and call 111 to report your recent stay.
If you get a cough, high temperature or feel short of breath within 14 days of returning from other parts of China, including Macao and Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore or Malaysia – you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people and also call NHS 111 to tell them of your recent travel.
Avoid using public transport if you appear to have symptoms.
To avoid catching or spreading the virus, the NHS advise washing hands after coughing or sneezing and throw away tissues used.
Using alcohol gel or washing hands after using public transport and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Who is most at risk from coronavirus?
People of all ages can contract coronavirus, but once caught it’s more dangerous for young children, the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions, or people with weakened immune systems.
Why has the UK declared an ‘imminent threat’?
The UK Health Secretary has declared that “the incidence or transmission” of the Coronavirus is “a serious and imminent threat to public health”.
Tory Matt Hancock’s announcement gives him emergency powers to stop people leaving quarantine.
A statement from the Department for Health said: “In accordance with Regulation 3, the Secretary of State declares that the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health.
“The measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus.”
It’s understood he took the decision because someone threatened to “abscond” from a quarantine centre at Arrowe Park Hospital, Merseyside.
Scores of Brits are in isolation there after 83 arrived from Wuhan for two weeks’ quarantine on January 31. The new law will give officials power to stop someone leaving.
A source told the Mirror: “Someone was threatening to abscond over the weekend.”
The source said the move was as much for the person’s own safety as the safety of the public. They added: “Overwhelmingly everyone who has been in quarantine has been really good about it. Many of them refused to get on the plane unless they would be quarantined afterwards.”
What does ‘imminent threat’ mean?
The phrasing of the government’s statement is really important. It doesn’t say the Coronavirus itself is an imminent threat – it says the “transmission” of it is.
So the “imminent threat” is actually the specific person who threatened to leave, not the virus as a whole.
Ministers needed to use this language to justify making emergency laws that haven’t yet been seen by Parliament.
Is the threat to the public changed?
Government officials say the threat to the public was still “moderate” this morning, despite the new declaration.
What will the new law actually do?
Known as the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations, the law is an emergency power made by the Health Secretary under section 45 of the 1984 Public Health Act.
It will let police wearing protective gear restrain someone if they try to leave quarantine.
According to the 1984 Act, ministers could also force parents to keep a child away from school; ban certain events or gatherings; or put restrictions on the transport of human remains.
On top of all that, the 1984 Act also allows a “special restriction or requirement” to be enforced by magistrates.
However, it’s thought the new powers contain no criminal offences and will not criminalise those in quarantine.
A source said: “These regulations are to ensure we have the powers to enforce isolation if necessary.
“If they do try to leave, we have the power to stop them.”
It is thought the law came into effect when the Health Secretary signed it this morning, and will lapse if not approved by Parliament within 28 days.
The law identifies Arrowe Park Hospital and Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes as “isolation” facilities, and Wuhan and Hubei province in China as an “infected area”.
How coronavirus reached Britain
January 20-23: A Brighton man attends a business conference in Singapore, where he contracts coronavirus.
January 24-28: The businessman arrives in Contamines-Montjoie in the French Alps and stays at a chalet owned by a fellow Brit. French health ministry officials say he had contact with at least 11 Britons at the chalet.
January 28: The Brighton man returns to the UK on an easyJet flight from Geneva, Switzerland, to London Gatwick.
January 31: The first two cases of coronavirus are confirmed in Britain. They are a Chinese University of York student and a family member. They were staying at StayCity Aparthotel in York, and subsequently taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
February 1: The man visits the Grenadier pub in Hove, among other places, following his return from France.
February 2: After developing symptoms at some point, the man calls NHS 111 for advice and goes by arrangement to the Royal County Sussex Hospital in Brighton to be tested for coronavirus.
February 6: The man’s case is confirmed and he is treated at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. His is the third case in the UK (joining two Chinese nationals) and he is the first British citizen to contract the potentially deadly bug.
February 8: Five British nationals – four adults and a nine-year-old boy – who had contact with the man at the chalet test positive for the virus in France.
February 9: A British dad living in Majorca tests positive after having contact with the Brighton businessman in France. The expat’s wife and two daughters test negative.
February 9: A person who had contact with the Brighton man in France is confirmed to be carrying the virus and is treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The patient is the UK’s fourth confirmed case.
February 10: Four more people in the UK are confirmed to have the disease after having contact with the businessman at the ski resort in France. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to eight.