Scotland confirms first case of Coronavirus bringing UK total to 36
1 March 2020, 19:37 | Updated: 4 March 2020, 18:24
Scotland has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in a patient who recently returned to the UK from Italy.
The news means the infection has now been confirmed in every single country in the UK.
Following the confirmation of the case in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Our first thoughts must be with the patient diagnosed with coronavirus, I wish them a speedy recovery.
"Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine.
"Early detection measures will continue to be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
"People have a vital role to play in helping us contain any outbreak by following the latest health and travel advice, and following basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing."
The First Minister will take part in a COBRA meeting on Monday.
There are now 33 patients in England - of which 12 were confirmed today - one in Northern Ireland, one in Wales and one in Scotland.
Three of the patients in England are understood to be a "family cluster" in West Sussex.
Health workers are currently trying to establish how the original patient caught Covid-19 without having travelled abroad.
A statement from Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, 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.
"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."
It comes after the Health Secretary conceded it was "inevitable" that the deadly virus would continue to spread across the UK.Matt Hancock did not rule out following China's lead in shutting down cities if the Covid-19 outbreak escalates, as he outlined a new "battle plan" by the Government on Sunday.
On isolating entire cities, as Chinese authorities did with Wuhan, Mr Hancock said: "There is clearly a huge economic and social downside to that.
"But we don't take anything off the table at this stage because you have to make sure you have all the tools available if that is what is necessary."
The Republic of Ireland reported its first case on Saturday while a staff member at an infant school in Berkshire was confirmed to be a Covid-19 patient.
In an email, Willow Bank Infant School headteacher Michelle Masters urged parents to "remain calm and follow the recommended hygiene procedures".
"The school will be shut for some days to allow for a deep clean and to ensure that the risk of infection remain(s) low," Ms Masters said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said coronavirus was "likely to spread more" before it is entirely contained.
Speaking to reporters at a Public Health England centre in Colindale, north London, the Prime Minister said he was "very, very confident" that the NHS is able to cope with an outbreak of coronavirus.
"As you know, we've found about 35 people in this country who have, or have had, the illness," he added.
"And 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."
There have so far been one British person killed by the virus, who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is currently moored in Japan