As it happenedended1580764460

Coronavirus: Cases double globally every five days as UK invests in search for new vaccine

Britain has 50 specialist beds and 500 more potentially to isolate victims, says health secretary 

Jon Sharman,Jane Dalton
Monday 03 February 2020 16:59 GMT
UK-wide Coronavirus information campaign launches

A British man who flew home from China ​suffering from coronavirus-like symptoms is expecting to receive results within hours telling him whether he has the illness.

Anthony May-Smith, who was put into isolation after landing, said later he felt fine.

The total number of deaths from the epidemic in China has risen to 362, with new infections in China increasing by 2,829 on Sunday, bringing the total to 17,205.

At least another 171 cases – including two in Britain – have been reported in countries including Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Spain and Thailand.

The number of cases of the virus worldwide is doubling roughly every five days, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, revealed.

It came as Chinese scientists revealed they had uncovered fresh evidence that the novel coronavirus had originated in bats. 

Please see below for what was our live coverage.



Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

A few key points from overnight:

- More than 2,000 Hong Kong medical workers have gone on strike, demanding the government close the border with mainland China

- The UK has ploughed £20m into a global effort to find a vaccine. CEPI is looking at an "ambitious" timescale of eight months

- China's financial markets have taken a massive hit

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 07:32

Info campaign

The UK government has launched a public health campaign in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus following confirmation of the first British cases of the deadly disease, writes Conrad Duncan.

Adverts informing people on how to protect themselves are to appear on social media, in newspapers and on the radio from Sunday as part efforts to reassure the public over the outbreak, which has killed 304 people in China.

Basic hygiene such as washing hands regularly and using tissues to catch a cough or sneeze are key ways to help slow the spread of the virus, the advice says.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 07:42

Hong Kong strike

Hong Kong medical workers have gone on strike demanding the government close the border with mainland China.

About 2,400 people - plus 100 supportive members of the public - also called for better distribution of face masks, more isolation wards for patients and a ready supply of equipment.

Hong Kong has seen 15 confirmed cases of the virus.

Leader Carrie Lam has suspended high-speed rail services to the mainland and cross-border ferries, but she has stopped short of closing the entire frontier, saying it would be "inappropriate and impractical".

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 07:50

The sight of coach loads of Britons being escorted into quarantine by police and officials wearing protective suits is reminiscent of Hollywood disaster movies, so it’s hardly surprising some members of the public are worried, writes health correspondent Shaun Lintern.

Protective face masks have been selling out in some parts of the country after news the Chinese coronavirus has reached the UK, and with wall-to-wall media coverage even the most rational of people might start wondering how bad this could get.

The reality is, while the coronavirus does present potentially very serious risks to public health, it is not nearly as serious as it could be.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 07:59

By the numbers

According to John Hopkins University's running tally, there are now 17,405 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Three hundred and sixty-two people have died - but 487 have recovered.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:05

More travel restrictions

The Czech government has joined the ranks of countries banning direct flights to China, effective from 9 February.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:10

Vaccine attempt

Scientists are hoping to develop a potential vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus within 16 weeks, ready for clinical trials that would last four months, writes health correspondent Shaun Lintern.

The head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said the rapid development would be unprecedented in vaccine history.

CEPI, a public-private partnership launched in 2017 to develop new vaccines to stop future epidemics, is being given £20m by the UK government to help fund the efforts as the UK and countries around the world try to prevent the coronavirus spreading further.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:15

The latest from Russia

Russia's Interfax news agency has quoted prime minister Mikhail Mishustin as saying Moscow may deport foreign citizens found to be infected with coronavirus.

So far, two cases of the disease have been uncovered in Russia, which shares an extensive land border with China.

Russia is to begin evacuating its citizens from Wuhan, and has also stopped passenger train services to China.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:21

More Britons arrive home

The second group of evacuees from the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China have entered quarantine after being flown back to the UK, writes Peter Stubley.

Eleven people, including British nationals and family members, arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire shortly before 8pm on Sunday.

They were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral, where 83 UK citizens have already begun their 14-day isolation period.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:30


I’ve bought surgical masks. I’ll admit it. I’ve been wearing one a day for a while. Before there were reports of coronavirus cases in the UK, I was already cautious, writes Sophie Lau.

Truth is, in the west, we have had little to worry about in terms of recent health crises, but the widespread panic among the Chinese diaspora right now is caused by a dark shadow in Chinese collective memory: that of the 2003 Sars outbreak.

There is plenty of information around about why Sars happened; how it spread so rapidly and why it was as lethal as it was. Certainly, the Chinese government covering up the outbreak for four months and healthcare workers not being properly informed of the dangers played a part.

Jon Sharman3 February 2020 08:40

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