Coronavirus news: Latest updates as cases pass 31,000 and UK man tests positive on cruise ship

A British honeymooner has been admitted to hospital after he and 60 others tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship.

Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, was diagnosed with the infection on board the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined off Yokohama, Japan.

The newlywed said he was being taken to hospital on Friday while his wife, Wendy, remained on board the ship.

Mr Steele wrote on Facebook: “Just to let you all know I have been diagnosed as having the virus and am being shipped to hospital.

“Would also like to say that at the moment I am not showing any symptoms so just possibly a carrier.”

Twenty people on board the ship, carrying nearly 3,700 passengers and crew members, were confirmed as having contracted the disease earlier this week.

An additional 41 people, including Mr Steele, then tested positive on Friday, taking the total number of cases to 61.

Passengers remain confined to their cabins and are only allowed on deck briefly for fresh air.

It came as the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) criticised the “widespread inappropriate use” of protective equipment such as masks, which has left it with insufficient stocks.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was a four- to six-month backlog for certain personal protective equipment supplies.

Officers in protective gear enter the cruise ship Diamond Princess after it arrives at in Yokohama, Japan, 7 February, 2020. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

He said the “first priority is health workers”, while “the second priority is those who are sick or caring for someone who is sick”.

Cruise line Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd took the step of banning anyone holding a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passport from boarding its ships from Friday.

Guests or crew members who have travelled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, or been in contact with someone who has, less than 15 days before sailing will not be allowed to board the company’s ships under the new rules.

The new coronavirus – which gives patients flu-like symptoms but can develop into pneumonia – has so far killed 719 people, with all but two of the deaths in China.

More than 34,000 people have now been infected around the world, with the majority of cases reported in China and two-thirds of them in the city of Wuhan and wider Hubei province.

The Department of Health and Social Care said 620 people in the UK had been tested for coronavirus as of 14.00 GMT Friday, with three cases confirmed, including one British national.

The first two patients – both Chinese nationals – continue to be treated at a specialist infectious diseases unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The patients, a University of York student and their relative, had recently travelled to China when they fell ill at a hotel in York.

It is understood the third person in the UK to be diagnosed with coronavirus, a British man, caught the illness in Singapore.

The man is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton after becoming concerned and calling the NHS 111 service before being transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London.

The South Central Ambulance Service has revealed Britons returning on an evacuation flight from Wuhan on Sunday will be taken to a conference centre and hotel in Milton Keynes for 14 days in isolation.

A spokesperson said the presence of the group would not present a risk to local people.

It added in a statement: “Everyone being repatriated will be assessed before boarding the plane in China, monitored during the flight and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK.

“A facility at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes is being used to house these returning citizens and they will remain at the site in isolation for 14 days. During this time their health will be regularly assessed.”

Coronavirus: The confirmed cases around the world

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has previously said the flight will be the final service chartered by the Foreign Office to bring UK nationals back from the Chinese city.

Britons who returned on a flight last month were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, in Merseyside, to be quarantined.

On Friday, the WHO noted that the reported number of new cases had fallen over the past two days, which experts welcomed with caution.

There were roughly 3,900 new cases reported worldwide on 5 February, 3,700 on 6 February and 3,200 on 7 February, WHO figures show.

The US has announced it is willing to give up to $100m (£77.6m) in aid to help China and other coronavirus-hit countries.

Stephen Biegun, deputy secretary of state, said the funding would help support response efforts by the WHO.

He added that the US had also sent nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China, including masks, gowns and other protective gear.

Additional reporting by agencies

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