A ninth case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the UK after a patient was taken to hospital in south London on Wednesday.
Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Witty said the patient was being treated at a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
Prof Witty said: “One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine.
“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.”
It comes as the two-week quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside of 83 UK nationals flown back to Britain from Wuhan is set to end on Thursday morning, amid reports they have all tested negative for coronavirus.
One of the patients, Kharn Lambert, confirmed the group were being released tomorrow and told the PA news agency: “I’m ecstatic and I’m so happy that everyone has come back with negative test results.”
Meanwhile, Steve Walsh, the businessman at the centre of the UK outbreak of coronavirus, has said he is “happy to be home” after being given the all-clear and then discharged from hospital.
Mr Walsh, a 53-year-old scout leader from Hove in East Sussex, contracted coronavirus on a business trip to Singapore – and is linked to five other people diagnosed with it in the UK.
On his way back to the UK from Singapore, he stopped off at a ski region in France, where five other Britons were subsequently infected with coronavirus, now also known as Covid-19.
Mr Walsh is also linked to a Briton taken ill in Majorca, taking the number of confirmed cases linked to him to 11.
In a statement on his release from hospital, Mr Walsh said: “I want to give a big thank you to the NHS who have been great throughout and my thoughts are with everyone around the world who continues to be affected by the virus.”
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, said Mr Walsh was discharged after two negative tests for coronavirus, 24 hours apart.
Update on #coronavirus:
A further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine. The individual acquired the virus in China.
More information:February 12, 2020
The ninth diagnosis in the UK came hours after Dr Paul Cosford, from Public Health England, told the BBC more cases of coronavirus in the UK are “highly likely”.
He said there are a number of “countries of concern” and that people returning from travelling abroad could bring in further cases.
Of the nine people so far diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, two are GPs.
Officials know that the pair worked at a nursing home, Worthing Hospital A&E and two GP practices between them.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed on Wednesday it has traced and advised all close contacts of the two GPs, including about 12 patients.
Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said on Wednesday that a number of GPs from Brighton were among those staying in the French ski chalet with Mr Walsh.
He said one of those completed a locum shift at Worthing A&E last week and, as a precaution, the hospital has now “sent home for self-isolation a number of their staff from various departments of the hospital”.
As a result, the hospital is experiencing some staff shortages, he said.
Earlier, Professor Neil Ferguson, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College, London, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the world was “in the early phases of a global pandemic at the moment” and the true number of UK cases is higher than eight.
He said it was “highly unlikely” the UK could stop transmission of coronavirus and it was likely to “get going” in the UK in the next few weeks, peaking a few months later.
He said up to 60% of people could become infected, with most suffering mild symptoms.
Meanwhile, in Brighton, pupils at several schools have been told they could stay at home after reports that some teachers and families feared they had come into contact with the virus.