PM Johnson “very confident” of Britain’s capability as coronavirus cases soar

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson

Health officials in Britain confirmed 12 more cases of the new coronavirus on Sunday (March 1), bringing the country’s overall tally to 35, as the Czech Republic announced its first three infections.

Alarmingly, Chief medical officer in the United Kingdom Prof. Chris Whitty said one of the new patients “had no relevant travel and it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad.”

Whitty said medical workers were still investigating the cause of that infection.

According to officials, three of the new British COVID-19 patients were contacts of an existing patient, while six newly infected people had recently travelled from Italy and two had arrived from Iran. Both countries have been hard hit by the coronavirus that emerged late last year in China’s Hubei province.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters Sunday at a health centre in London that he was “very, very confident” that the National Health Service can cope with the virus outbreak.

″(It’s) likely to spread a bit more, and it’s vital therefore that people understand that we do have a great plan, a plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus,” he said.

Elsewhere in Europe, France raised its number of reported cases to 130 on Sunday, including one in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the first in France’s overseas territories.

The spreading virus epidemic shut down France’s iconic Louvre Museum. Workers who guard The Louvre’s famous trove of artworks are fearful of being contaminated by the massive flow of tourists globally as nearly 75 per cent of the museum’s 9.6 million visitors last year came from abroad.

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech said Sunday that two COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Prague and another in northern city of Usti nad Labem. All three had travel ties to northern Italy.

Spain said it now has 71 virus cases, many of them linked to Italy.

The Dutch health minister announced three new virus cases, bringing the country’s overall tally to 10, while new cases elsewhere brought national totals to Norway 19, Sweden 14 and Finland six.