Boris Johnson is expected to tell an emergency Cobra meeting on coronavirus that tackling the outbreak requires a “national and international effort”, following the UK’s third death linked to the illness.
A man in his 60s died at North Manchester General Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, Public Health England confirmed on Sunday evening.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the UK now sits at 278, a rise of 72 since Saturday. This is the biggest jump in cases in a 24-hour period.
Monday’s Cobra meeting will assess whether the UK should officially move from the “contain” to the “delay” phase of the government’s plan to deal with coronavirus.
Such a step would require agreement from England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who are due to be at the high-level discussions.
The prime minister is expected to tell the meeting that he is “confident the British people are ready to play their part” in the “national and international effort”.
The third person to die in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus had “significant underlying health conditions”, according to Mr Whitty.
The had also recently returned from a trip in Italy.
In a brief statement, Mr Whitty said: “I am very sorry to report that a third patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died.
“I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected.
“The patient, who was being treated at the North Manchester General Hospital, was over 60 years old and had significant underlying health conditions.”
Mr Whitty added that contact tracing was already under way.
Most recent coronavirus developments in the UK:
- Three deaths in patients who tested positive with the virus
- Victims were in Berkshire, Milton Keynes and Manchester
- Sunday sees a rise of 72 cases to reach a total of 278 – the highest increase in cases in a 24-hour period
- Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to northern Italy
- People returning from affected areas in Italy told to self-isolate regardless of whether they have symptoms
- The virus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship with more than 140 Britons on board is due to dock in Oakland, California on Monday
The announcement came just days after the first two deaths were reported in the UK in patients who had tested positive for the illness.
Both had underlying health conditions and died in hospital on Thursday.
The first, a woman in 70s, lost her life in hospital in Reading, Berkshire, while the second, an 83-year-old man, died while being treated at Milton Keynes University Hospital.
In a statement on Saturday night, the family of the second victim paid tribute to a “truly loving and wonderful” husband, dad, granddad and great-granddad.
They also confirmed they could not yet begin making funeral arrangements for their relative as they had also been placed into isolation as a precaution.
The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are in England. London has at least 51 cases, the South East 41 and the South West 35. The region with the smallest number is the North East and Yorkshire with at least 18.
British tourists were warned to avoid all but essential travel to a swathe of northern Italy where around 16 million people have been placed under lockdown as its COVID-19 linked death toll rose to 366.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to virus-stricken areas of northern Italy, but said British nationals are still able to leave Italy without restriction.
The Department for Health and Social Care has said those returning from the affected areas should self-isolate for 14 days at home, even if they have no symptoms.
Budget airline easyJet said it was cancelling some flights to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports, with further flight reductions expected to come.
Meanwhile, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will host a meeting with governing bodies and broadcasters on Monday to discuss how to handle the COVID-19 outbreak’s potential impact on the sporting calendar.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said expert teams have been brought together to tackle the potential spread of “misinformation and digital interference” around coronavirus.
And the FCO has said it is “working intensively” with US authorities on arranging a flight for British nationals on the coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship due to arrive in Oakland, California, on Monday.