Coronavirus: Britain confirms 3rd case, UK citizen who had travelled to Singapore, say reports

In a photo taken on Jan 31, 2020, a pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in north-east England.
In a photo taken on Jan 31, 2020, a pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in north-east England.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - The third person in Britain to test positive for coronavirus had travelled to Britain from Singapore, British media reports say, prompting a significant widening of the government’s response to the outbreak.

The new case, a middle-aged man, was the first British national to contract the virus, government sources indicated, the Guardian reported.

He was said to be isolated at home, tested positive and was taken to St Thomas's Hospital in central London, where he is being treated at a specialist infectious diseases unit, BBC reported. It had previously been reported he was at Guy's Hospital in the city.

The latest case promoted British health authorities to urge anyone who recently arrived in Britain from mainland China or eight other places to seek help if they are ill, and to stay indoors if they have symptoms like a cough, fever, or shortness of breath.

These other places in the advisory include Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

"A further patient has tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the UK to three," Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Thursday (Feb 6). "The individual did not acquire this in the UK."

"We are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had," Whitty said.

The person was a British citizen who had travelled from an Asian country, but not China, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday. 

Citing the Chief Medical Officer, the spokesman said when asked whether the person was British: “I believe they are yes ... they contracted the virus from an Asian country ... not China.” 

The patient is being transferred to a specialist health service centre. The first two people in Britain to be diagnosed with the virus are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle, northeast England, Britain's health ministry said last week.

Coronavirus spread among passengers of a quarantined Japanese cruise liner on Thursday and dragged down production at more global businesses, as scientists across the world searched for a vaccine.

The death toll from the virus in mainland China jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 confirmed infections inside the workshop of the world and its second-largest economy.