The UK has seen its biggest day-on-day increase in coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 87.
Almost all of the 36 new patients had recently travelled to affected countries or been infected by others who had done so, the UK’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said.
But it is not clear how three new patients in England caught the virus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee in London.
Prof Whitty – who earlier said an epidemic in the UK was “likely” – said people who have been in contact with the new patients are being traced.
Of the 87 cases in the UK there are 80 in England, three in Scotland, one in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.
Two of the latest patients are Scottish, with one living in the Grampian area and the other in Ayrshire. One had recently travelled to northern Italy while the other had contact with a known positive case.
New cases of the virus in England have been confirmed in Liverpool, York, Carlisle, Newcastle and Manchester, as well as in Lancashire and Derbyshire.
In Northern Ireland, a Queen’s University postgraduate student, who recently returned from northern Italy and has been mixing with fellow students, tested positive.
Meanwhile, students at Goldsmiths in south London have been told a visitor to one of the university’s halls of residences has coronavirus.
In an email, the university said the person was “being looked after” and that the student they visited was “self-isolating as a precautionary measure”.
Meanwhile Buckingham University and the University of London have put back their graduation ceremonies to minimise the spread of the disease.
In “the worst case scenario”, up to 80% of the UK population could be infected with coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, Prof Whitty said.
But he said a move to lock down entire towns and cities across the UK would be “very unlikely”.
Source: BBC News