Two people in the UK have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, medical authorities said on Friday, the first cases of the virus in the country.
The cases have been confirmed in England, but it is not currently known exactly where in the country the patients are.
“We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus,” Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England said in a statement.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.”
“We are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread,” Whitty added.
It is not known if the patients had recently been in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated.
The news comes hours before the UK expects to receive a plane containing 83 Britons from Wuhan. The plane is to land on the Wirral, in northwest England, and the passengers will be quarantined for 14 days.
The virus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, spreads from human to human, and has infected some people who had not traveled to Wuhan recently.
It has now spread to at least 20 countries worldwide. The vast majority of cases are in China, with almost 10,000 people in the country infected, and over 200 dead.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency on Thursday.