Coronavirus: '70 year-old woman' dies in the UK as cases double in 48 hours

A patient with underlying health conditions has become the first person in the UK to die after testing positive for coronavirus.

Friday, 6th March 2020, 7:21 am
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 7:36 am

The older patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, had been "in and out of hospital" for other reasons, but was admitted on Wednesday evening to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and tested positive.

The news comes as cases of coronavirus in the UK have more than doubled in 48 hours, and the country moves towards the "delay phase" of tackling the virus.

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Some 116 people have tested positive, including 105 in England, two in Wales, six in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland.

Just two days ago there were 51 UK cases.

A statement from the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust said: "Sadly, we can confirm that an older patient with underlying health conditions has died.

"The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus.

"The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said he was "very sorry" to report the news and offered "sincere condolences" to the family.

He added: "We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already under way."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: "Our sympathies are very much with the victim and their family," while Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "My sincere condolences to their family and loved ones. We will work tirelessly to protect the public from this disease."

Officials later confirmed 18 people diagnosed with coronavirus have since recovered, while 45 of the confirmed cases are being treated at home.

Last week, Japanese authorities said a British tourist who had been on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan, had died after contracting the virus.

On Wednesday, Government advice was updated to urge anyone returning to the UK from "lockdown" areas in northern Italy to self-isolate regardless of whether they have symptoms, while travellers from any other part of the country should call 111 or self-isolate if they feel unwell.

Downing Street on Thursday said it is "highly likely" that coronavirus will now spread in a "significant way".

Earlier, Prof Whitty warned that critical care beds in the NHS could come under intense pressure during a coronavirus epidemic.

He later added at a press conference that people with "very minimal" symptoms should stay at home because it would be "safer and more pleasant" for them.

Of the new cases, 17 people had recently travelled from countries or clusters already under investigation, while eight people contracted the virus in the UK and are being investigated.

Out of the cases identified in England, 25 of them are in London.

The North West and South East each have 17 cases, the South West 15, the East of England eight, the Midlands nine and the North East and Yorkshire 10 cases.

Four other cases are still to be determined.

Local regions reported that two new cases were in Staffordshire, one was linked to the University of Sussex in Brighton, two were in Wigan, one in Rotherham, two in Liverpool, and one in Birmingham.