In Brief

Coronavirus: first UK fatality ‘caught it in Britain’

News comes as UK moves to delay phase of the response

The first person in the UK to die from coronavirus caught the deadly illness in Britain, according to reports.

The victim, a woman in her 70s, had underlying health conditions and had been “in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons,” say health officials.

The patient was diagnosed after being admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on Wednesday. She is thought to have caught the virus in the UK, said the country's chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty.

The Sun describes the news that the patient is thought to have contracted coronavirus in the UK as “worrying”. Boris Johnson said that “our sympathies are very much with the victim and their family”.

The news came as Downing Street warned that it was now highly likely that the virus would spread in “a significant way”. The number of cases in Britain has more than doubled from 51 two days ago to 116.

The government has announced that some of those confirmed to have contracted the virus are now being treated at home rather than in hospital.

“We’ve moved to a situation where people have minimal symptoms and they can self-isolate. It’s safer for them to self-isolate in their own homes, with support,” claimed Prof Whitty. “Anybody who needs hospitalisation will be hospitalised.”

However, the Daily Mail says there are “mounting fears overwhelmed NHS hospitals won't be able to cope with an inevitable outbreak”. 

Johnson’s spokesman said: “We will continue to try to contain this virus. However it’s now highly likely that the virus is going to spread in a significant way.”

“Officials will therefore accelerate work on preparations for the delay phase of the government’s plan focusing on steps we can take to seek to delay the spread of the virus.”

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