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Two people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the Department of Health has confirmed.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said: "We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus.
"The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.
"The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.
"We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.
Update on #Coronavirus:@CMO_England statement on two confirmed cases in England.
:arrow_forward: https://t.co/lAQUTk8qm4 pic.twitter.com/7p77OihKmv
- Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) January 31, 2020
"We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities."
Press Association claimed that sources close to the case said the two patients are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle.
Since the virus hit China earlier this month, around 10,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness, while so far 213 people have died.
The UK's first cases come after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the global outbreak of coronavirus to be a public health emergency of international concern.
The announcement was made during a press conference in Geneva.
The WHO's director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: "The main reason is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries."
He added: "Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it."
Ghebreyesus praised China's speed on detected the outbreak, isolating the virus, sequencing the genome and sharing it with the WHO, saying the country's efforts were 'very impressive'.
"I also offer my profound respect and thanks to the thousands of brave health professionals and all frontline responders, who in the midst of the Spring Festival, are working 24/7 to treat the sick, save lives and bring this outbreak under control," he said.
"So far we have not seen any deaths outside China, for which we must all be grateful.
"Although these numbers are still relatively small compared to the number of cases in China, we must all act together now to limit further spread."
The United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the country's first person-to-person transmission of coronavirus, with health officials explaining during a press briefing that a new patient is the spouse of a Chicago woman who brought the infection back with her from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.
This made the United States the fifth country - at least - where the infection is now spreading through human-to-human contact.
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