Coronavirus: First Northern Ireland case brings UK total to 16

A pedestrian is seen wearing a surgical face mask on Regents Street in central London on Feb 27, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

BELFAST/LONDON (REUTERS) - The British region of Northern Ireland on Thursday (Feb 27) confirmed its first case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the United Kingdom to 16.

Northern Ireland's chief medical officer Michael McBride told journalists that the patient, the first confirmed case on the island of Ireland, had traveled from Italy via Dublin Airport.

Authorities in the Republic of Ireland have been informed of the patient's movements, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty confirmed two cases, who contracted the virus in Italy and Tenerife.

All three patients are receiving specialist care.

Governments are ramping up measures to battle a looming global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China, the source of the outbreak, for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.

The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed nearly 2,800, the majority in China.

Much remains unknown about the virus but it is clear there are vast ramifications of the world's second-biggest economy in lockdown for a month or more.

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