A patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first person to catch it in the UK.
It is unclear whether this was “directly or indirectly” from someone who recently returned from abroad, England’s chief medical officer said.
The man, from Surrey, is a patient at Haslemere Health Centre and had not been abroad.
It takes the total number of UK cases to 20 and comes after a man became the first UK citizen to die from the virus.
The British man, who was on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, is the sixth passenger to die from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, Japan’s health ministry said.
Confirming the latest UK case, Professor Chris Whitty said the patient, a resident of Surrey, in south-east England, has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
He said the case is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the virus was passed on in the UK but the original source was “unclear”.
It added that there was no “immediately identifiable link” to overseas travel.
Public Health England said it was working with Surrey County Council to contact people who had “close contact” with the Surrey coronavirus case.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is due to chair an emergency Cobra committee meeting on Monday, said preparing for an outbreak in the UK was now the government’s “top priority”.
What do I need to know about the coronavirus?
- WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? A simple guide
- WAYS TO PREVENT CATCHING IT: How to wash your hands
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- A VISUAL GUIDE TO THE OUTBREAK: Virus maps and charts
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MY HOLIDAY? Your rights as a traveller
Speaking from Downing Street on Friday evening, Mr Johnson offered his condolences to the family of the British man who died from Covid-19.
When asked if the government should have acted sooner for Britons on the cruise ship, he said it had been following the “best medical advice” about not repatriating people unless it is certain there will not be a spread to the UK.
Mr Johnson has also faced criticism from Labour for waiting until Monday to hold the government Cobra meeting.
But he said he had been working behind the scenes, meeting with the health secretary and chief medical officers to discuss the NHS’s preparations.
Hundreds of people on board the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship became infected while it was held in quarantine off the port of Yokohama earlier this month.