The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK has now reached 460, after the biggest rise in a single day.
Six patients with coronavirus have died in hospitals in the UK – the latest was a man in his early 80s in Watford who had underlying health conditions.
NHS England plans to expand the number of people it can test in a day to 10,000, up from 1,500.
It comes as the World Health Organization upgraded the status of the outbreak to a pandemic.
It is expected that confirmation of positive test results will be sped up in the UK with most people receiving them within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, a 53-year-old British woman has become the first person with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, to die in Indonesia, according to local media reports.
It is not clear whether the woman – who was reportedly critically ill with multiple health conditions – died due to the virus.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health confirmed there had been 83 more cases since Tuesday. In all, 27,476 people have been tested so far.
Later, Wales confirmed four new cases.
Scotland and Wales have also seen their first cases of community transmission – meaning the virus was contracted in the UK and is unrelated to travel.
Of the cases in England, London has the highest number, with 104. South-east England is the next highest infected area, with 60 cases, followed by south-west England with 44 cases.
Earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the Budget and pledged the NHS would get “whatever resources it needs” during the crisis – whether it needed “millions of pounds or billions”.
He said workers who fell ill would be able to get a sick note by ringing 111 rather than visiting a GP, and people who were self-employed who were off work because of the virus would be eligible for benefits from day one.
For businesses, Mr Sunak promised a temporary coronavirus loan scheme to help small and medium-sized companies and said the government would rebate firms with up to 250 people for the cost of statutory sick pay.
Advice to tourists in Italy
The Foreign Office has issued a travel update for British nationals in Italy, urging all remaining tourists to contact their airline operators and return back to the UK.
People were still able to leave Italy without restrictions and airports were still open, the Foreign Office added.
Italy is the European country worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with the whole of the country currently in lockdown.
Earlier this week, tourist Hannah Butcher from Newbury, who was in Rome, said it was “the weirdest holiday” she had ever been on, with one-in one-out rules to get into shops and families having to sit apart in restaurants.
The UK is currently in the “contain” phase of its four-part plan to deal with coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19.
Later on Wednesday, Boris Johnson is expected to welcome tech companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to No 10 to discuss efforts to tackle fake news about coronavirus and how to keep the public informed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will also give a statement to MPs.
In other developments:
- About 135 British passengers and crew members from the Grand Princess cruise ship in the port of Oakland, California – which was quarantined after an outbreak of coronavirus on board – will land in Birmingham later on Wednesday. They will be tested and, if the results are negative, go into self-isolation
- The bank Barclay’s is deep cleaning its London office in Canary Wharf after an employee tested positive
- The chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens announced plans to invite “up to 18,000 third year undergraduate nurses to help out on the frontline”
- Uber has said any driver or delivery person with coronavirus will receive “financial assistance for up to 14 days” – although it is not clear how much
- Conservative health minister Nadine Dorries and one of her staff members have tested positive for the virus. A Labour MP and a constituent who came in to contact with the minister are self-isolating. The government said there were no plans to test any ministers or the prime minister, Boris Johnson
- The Bank of England earlier announced an emergency cut in interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak
- Manchester City’s Premier League match against Arsenal on Wednesday has been postponed as several Arsenal players are in self-isolation after coming into contact with Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who tested positive for the virus
- Ireland has recorded its first coronavirus-related death, after a patient died in the east of the country on Wednesday
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