Britain declares coronavirus a serious, imminent threat to public health

Britain on Monday declared the new coronavirus a serious and imminent threat to public health, giving the government additional powers to isolate those suspected of being infected.

Britain has recorded four cases of coronavirus so far while British nationals, who have been flown back from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the epidemic broke out, are being quarantined for 14 days.

The virus has killed more than 900 people, all but two in mainland China, and has spread to at least 27 countries and territories.

Britain’s health ministry said new measures were aimed at delaying or preventing further transmission of the coronavirus.

“We are strengthening our regulations so we can keep individuals in supported isolation for their own safety and if public health professionals consider they may be at risk of spreading the virus to other members of the public,” a health ministry spokesman said.

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Arrowe Park Hospital, near Liverpool in northern England, and Kents Hill Park, in Milton Keynes, have been designated as isolation facilities.

The death toll of 97 on Sunday was the largest in a single day since the outbreak was detected in December.

It has been linked to a market selling animals in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

A team of experts headed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was flying into Beijing on Monday to help assess the latest outbreak.

The virus had infected more than 330 people.

The epidemic has caused huge disruptions in China with usually teeming cities becoming virtual ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered lockdowns, cancelled flights and closed factories and schools.

China’s central bank has taken a raft of steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity.

From Monday, it will provide special funds for banks to re-lend to businesses combating the virus. (Reuters/NAN)

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