A British man who was aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama has died from coronavirus, the first death of a UK citizen during the outbreak.
The Japanese health ministry said the man – who has not been named – was the first foreigner from the ship to die of Covid-19.
Confirming the news, an FCO spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities.
“Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
It comes as another case was confirmed in the UK brining the total to 20.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said in a statement that the virus was passed on in the UK but the original source of the virus was “unclear”.
It added that there was no “immediately identifiable link” to overseas travel.
Boris Johnson said the coronavirus was now the government’s top priority and told Sky News on Friday that he had met with the health secretary and chief medical officers to discuss the preparations.
He said: “On the issue of coronavirus, which obviously is a great concern to people, I just want to reassure everybody and say that the NHS is making every possible preparation.”
Johnson said that people were right to be concerned about the virus but the best thing they could do was regularly wash their hands with soap and water.
But he confirmed that “further advice” from ministers would be coming next week, including how the government would deal with a further spread of the virus across the UK.
In other developments:
- About 83,800 people around the globe have now been infected with Covid-19, while 2,867 people have died after contracting the virus.
- The World Health Organisation has upgraded the global risk of the virus spreading to its highest level
- There have been 20 confirmed cases in the UK, with more than 7,000 people having been tested.
- There have been 18 cases diagnosed in England, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.
- Although several schools have sent pupils home over fears of Covid-19 contact, Public Health England’s general advice is for them not to close.
- Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire, was closed on Thursday because of a case diagnosed in a parent.
- Tokyo Disneyland will be closed from Saturday to March 15 due to concerns about coronavirus infections spreading in Japan
- The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies has fallen faster this week than at any time since the financial crisis in 2008 – wiping £200bn off its value.
Downing Street confirmed a Cobra meeting would be convened following a sharp increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in mainland Europe – prompting fears it is only a matter of time before they start rising in the UK.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was heavily critical of the decision to delay the meeting until Monday.
He said: “Our part-time Prime Minister needs to get a grip of this escalating situation quickly.
“It shouldn’t take another three days for this meeting to take place.”
The Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama under quarantine after a passenger who had left the cruise tested positive for coronavirus.
With 705 confirmed cases among passengers and crew, it represents the place with the third-highest number Covid-19 cases in the world, behind China and South Korea.
To date, six people who were on board the ship have reportedly died from coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the Diamond Princess ship that the British man had been holidaying on, said: “All of us at Princess Cruises, including the crew of Diamond Princess, offer our sincere condolences to family members and friends for their loss.
“Our dedicated care team are on hand to provide support.”
Scientists are racing to find a treatment, health crews are scrubbing everything from money to buses, and quarantines are being enforced in places from a beachfront resort in the Atlantic to an uninhabited island in the Pacific as the world battles the spread of a new virus.
Concern is also growing over the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, with work at many factories halted, trade routes frozen and tourism crippled, while a growing list of countries brace for the illness to claim new territory.
Even the Tokyo Olympics, five months away, are not far enough off to keep people from wondering if they will go ahead as planned, PA Media reports.