The United Kingdom saw its number of confirmed coronavirus cases double over the weekend after four more people were diagnosed with the pneumonia-like illness. To date, there are eight cases of the novel virus in the country.
“The new cases are all known contacts of a previously confirmed UK case, and the virus was passed on in France,” Professor Chris Whitty, the Department of Health’s chief medical officer for England, said in a statement on Monday.
The new cases are linked to a British man who contracted the virus while in Singapore on business. He then traveled to a ski resort in France, exposing others to the illness. He is currently being treated at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, the BBC reported.
“The patients have been transferred to specialist NHS [centers] at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and The Royal Free hospitals, and we are now using robust infection control measures to prevent further spread of the virus. The NHS is extremely well prepared to manage these cases and treat them, and we are working quickly to identify any further contacts these patients have had,” Whitty added.
U.K. government officials also on Monday declared the coronavirus outbreak a “serious and imminent threat to public health.”
“In light of the recent public health emergency from the novel Coronavirus originating from Wuhan, Secretary of State has made regulations to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus,” the government said in a statement, adding Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside, and Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes, are “isolation facilities.”