UK coronavirus cases rise to 16 after first patient diagnosed in Northern Ireland
27 February 2020, 19:15 | Updated: 27 February 2020, 23:42
The first case of coronavirus in Northern Ireland has been confirmed, bringing to total number of infected people in the UK to 16.
Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride said one person has been confirmed to have been infected, and has had a "presumptive positive test" for the virus.
A second test will also be done in England for a second confirmation.
Dr McBride added the patient is an adult who returned from northern Italy to the Republic of Ireland before travelling to Northern Ireland.
The person is now the 16th in the UK to be diagnosed with the disease, after two more people in England were confirmed to have it earlier today.
Dr McBride added: "We have been planning for the first positive case in Northern Ireland and have made clear that it was a question of when not if.
"We have robust infection control measures in place which enable us to respond immediately. Our health service is used to managing infections and would assure the public that we are prepared.
"Our advice to the public remains the same. Members of the public who have visited affected regions and have symptoms are advised to self-isolate at home and contact their GP in the first instance. Advice will then be given on next steps, including testing if required."
An isolation unit has been made available in Belfast for any cases to receive medical treatment.
The two new cases confirmed in England returned to the UK from Italy and Tenerife, the department of health has said.
One of the confirmed cases originates in Buxton, Derbyshire, where a school and NHS GP surgery have shut.
Callers to Buxton Medical Practice are greeted with an automated message that says: "We have a confirmed case of the coronavirus. We are liaising with PHE and the CCG to ensure all appropriate actions are taken. Please do not come to the practice."
A school in the town has closed after a parent reportedly was diagnosed with the illness.
Burbage Primary school said a parent was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The school posted on Facebook last night: "Burbage primary school in Buxton shall be CLOSED tomorrow (27th) due to a confirmed case of corona virus amongst their parent population.
"This is a precautionary measure and to enable a deep clean of the school to be completed.
"Once again let me stress this is just precautionary measures and for the safety and protection of children and teachers so that the school can be cleaned.
"There's no context or explanation as to whether the parent has actually been on the school premises. I would think its a very precautionary measure and not to panic at this stage."
More than 82,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide as the deadly illness has gripped every continent bar Antarctica.
Schools across the country have defied government advice in closing their doors to protect against coronavirus.
At least eight have shut, while others have sent pupils home amid fears they may have been exposed to coronavirus during trips to northern Italy.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte's primary school, Thomas's Battersea, is among those hit by the precautionary measures, with four pupils reportedly sent home to self-isolate following a trip to northern Italy.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock has warned against a "mass panic" over COVID-19, as the latest strand of coronavirus is known, but admitted the UK expects more cases.
Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness.
The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to 10 towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo'Euganeo).
And officials denied there were any plans to evacuate the Britons at a hotel in Tenerife under quarantine, instead arranging for written messages to be put under the doors of the rooms of British guests asking them to get in contact.