UK announces tougher quarantine measures as coronavirus fears mount

The UK government has announced tougher powers to keep people in quarantine to prevent spread of the coronavirus, after it emerged that a passenger from the first flight back from Wuhan is threatening to abscond from a specialist site.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has described the virus as a “serious and imminent threat” to public health to allow for the tougher measures.

The BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson said the new measures were announced to convince the passenger to stay in quarantine in Wirral, Merseyside.

“Currently the regulations are not strong enough to stop him leaving before the 14-day period is up so they brought in these new regulations to try and compel him to stay put,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

A further 200 British and foreign nationals arrived on the second and final flight chartered to the UK from Wuhan by the Foreign Office.

Those on the second flight were taken to a Milton Keynes conference centre for 14 days of quarantine.

The number of people diagnosed now exceeds 40,000, mostly in China, and there have been more than 900 deaths in the country.

There have been only four cases of coronavirus in the UK, with one man quarantined at a specialist infectious diseases unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

There are concerns that the individual is a “super spreader” – he has been linked to a cluster of infections at the French skiing resort of Contamines-Montjoie after flying there from Singapore.

The individual then returned to the UK, where he is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton before being sent to the hospital.

As the individual travelled across the world, it is feared that he could have infected hundreds of other people who were on the same aeroplane flights.

The man was reportedly asymptomatic on his return to the UK, where he visited a pub in Brighton.

Staff from the Grenadier in Hove have been told to self-isolate for a fortnight, along with a student who may have come into contact with the man.

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