The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales, as two more were identified in England – bringing the total number in the UK to 19.
On Friday morning, chief medical officer for Wales Dr Frank Atherton confirmed a person had been diagnosed with the virus after travelling back to Wales from Italy.
He said: “I can confirm that one patient in Wales has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19). All appropriate measures to provide care for the individual and to reduce the risk of transmission to others are being taken.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to assure the public that Wales and the whole of the UK is well prepared for these types of incidents.”
Public Health Wales said medics were trying to trace people who had been in close contact with the patient.
The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed two further cases of coronavirus in England. Both English patients contracted the virus in Iran, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said.
The total number of cases in England is now at 17, and the first case in Northern Ireland was confirmed on Thursday. People who sat within two rows of the person from Northern Ireland infected with Covid-19 on the plane from northern Italy to Dublin have been contacted, health authorities said.
‘Get a grip’
The woman followed advice in reporting concerns to a GP, and “self isolated” at home whilst awaiting the results of testing.
Former chancellor and Evening Standard editor George Osborne said it is time for the government to go on a “war footing” with the coronavirus.
“The public is fearful, wants information and needs to know their leaders have got a grip,” he said, calling for “daily NHS press briefings, regular COBRA meetings chaired by the PM [and] Ministers on all major media shows”.
Meanwhile, 168 Britons remain confined to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife after at least four guests were diagnosed with coronavirus. Sources have said that around 50 of the Britons will be allowed to leave if they wish.
Airline Jet2 has said it will not fly back any people who have been staying at the hotel until they have tested negative for the illness.
The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria’s health minister said the first case in the region was an Italian citizen who worked in Nigeria and had returned from Italy to Lagos on 25 February.New Zealand, Belarus and Lithuania also registered their first cases bringing the number of countries affected to almost 50.
Pope Francis cancelled his official audiences on Friday after apparently coming down with a cold. The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff celebrated morning Mass as usual and greeted participants at the end. He aimed to keep his private meeting schedule as planned, but decided to cancel the official audiences.
The Vatican has not said what exactly Francis has come down with, but he was coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass this week. On Thursday, he cancelled a planned trip across town to celebrate Mass with priests in Rome.The outbreak in Italy is concerning world health officials (Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)
His illness comes amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy that has left more than 650 people sick, almost all of them in the north. Rome has had three cases, but all three recovered.
Francis has generally enjoyed good health. He lost part of one lung as a young man because of a respiratory illness, and suffers from sciatica, which makes walking difficult.
Elsewhere, the Swiss government has said it is banning all “public and private” events involving more than 1,000 people in the country as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus. The measure comes into effect immediately and will last until at least March 15.
The government said the decision was taken “in view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus”.The measure will affect the annual Geneva Motor Show, which was due to take place from March 5-15 and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Facebook event cancelled
In the US, although Donald Trump has been giving upbeat press conferences about the ability of the country to prevent an outbreak, Facebook has cancelled its annual F8 developer conference because of ongoing concerns over coronavirus.
The convention, which had been due to take place in San Jose, California, in early May, attracted around 5,000 visitors last year.
Facebook’s Konstantinos Papamiltiadis said the “growing concerns” around the virus, officially known as Covid-19, meant the tech giant had decided to cancel the “in-person component” of the conference.
“This was a tough call to make – F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favourite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world – but we need to prioritise the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” he said.
“We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”
In place of an in-person event, Facebook said it would stage a range of “locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content”.
The announcement follows the cancellation of another major technology convention – Mobile World Congress – which had been due to take place in Barcelona earlier this week. The event had been expected to draw around 100,000 attendees, including several thousand from China, where Covid-19 is thought to have originated.
A number of high-profile technology companies, including Sony, LG and Intel, had withdrawn from the convention before it was cancelled.
Another event – the Game Developers Conference (GDC) – now also appears to be in question after Microsoft became the latest of several companies to announce they were pulling out. The conference is due to take place in San Francisco between March 16 and 20.
Microsoft said in a statement: “The health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority.”
Fortnite maker Epic Games is among the firms to have previously confirmed they would not attend.