A fourth person in the UK has died after contracting coronavirus, the health minister has announced.
The patient was in their 70s with underlying health conditions and was being treated at a Wolverhampton hospital.
They are believed to have contracted the virus on British soil, England's chief medical office Chris Whitty said, adding that NHS officials are tracing those with whom they had been in contact.
Matt Hancock made the announcement in the House of Commons as he updated MPs on the UK’s coronavirus outbreak, which has seen 319 confirmed cases as of 9am on Monday.
He echoed the prime minister and other senior Cabinet figures who insisted the UK is still in the containment stage – the first of three in the government’s action plan of contain, delay and mitigate.
“We continue to work to contain the virus, but we’re also taking action to delay its impact, to fund research and to mitigate its consequences,” Mr Hancock said.
Moving to the delay stage would likely see the introduction of “social distancing” measures – such as banning large events, closing schools and encouraging people to work from home, which were mulled by minister’s at a Cobra meeting chaired by Boris Johnson on Monday.
But Mr Hancock said the scientific advice was clear that acting too early created its own risks.
“Throughout, our approach is guided by the science. That is the bedrock on which we base all our decisions,” Mr Hancock told the Commons.
“Our plan sets out what we are prepared to do and we’ll make the right choices of which action to pursue at the right moment.
“The scientific advice is clear – acting too early creates its own risks, so we will do what is right to keep people safe. Guided by the science we’ll act at the right time and we’ll be clear and open about our actions and the reasons for them.”
Last week, Professor Whitty told MPs the UK was mainly moving towards the delay stage, while deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries warned the country was “teetering on the edge” of sustained transmission.
As of 9am on Monday, 280 cases had been identified in England – 61 of which are in the capital.
Wales is home to six cases, while Northern Ireland has discovered 12. Five new cases were announced in Scotland on Monday, where the total sits at 23.
Additional reporting by PA
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