Process to contact those exposed to York coronavirus patients described as 'rapid and ongoing'

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Everyone who came into contact with two patients identified as having coronavirus in York will be contacted in a matter of days, the Health Secretary has confirmed.

Two people fell ill at the Staycity Aparthotel on Paragon Street last week and were diagnosed on Friday as the first coronavirus patients in the UK.

The hotel in York where two cases of coronavirus were identified. Photo: PA

The hotel in York where two cases of coronavirus were identified. Photo: PA

They are now being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said: “The process of contacting those who have been in contact with the two people who have so far tested positive for the virus is rapid and ongoing—it is a matter of days to complete and get in contact with all those people.”

It came after Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell had criticised how MPs, the NHS, the council, and other organisations had been given information over the cases.

She said: “I particularly thank Public Health England for the advice it has provided throughout the weekend, but levels of concern remain high in York.

“Not only is that impacting on the local economy, but people are concerned. That concern could be alleviated by better communication and if the statutory bodies—including the local authority, the university, the police and other authorities—are kept better informed about what is happening.”

Mr Hancock replied: “When things are moving fast and information flows very quickly, we can always improve the way in which those flows occur.”

It comes as Britons in mainland China have been urged to leave as coronavirus continues to claim more lives in the country.

The Foreign Office amended its travel advice after Mr Hancock said he expects more cases of the virus to be diagnosed in the UK.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: "We now advise British nationals in China to leave the country if they can, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.

"Where there are still British nationals in Hubei province who wish to be evacuated, we will continue to work around the clock to facilitate this."

The Foreign Office added that commercial flights departing China were available throughout the country, except in Hubei where the virus originated.

The death toll in mainland China from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 425, with the total number of cases now standing at 20,438, officials said today.

The new figures come after the country opened a new hospital built in 10 days, infused cash into tumbling financial markets and further restricted people's movement in hopes of containing the rapidly spreading virus and its escalating impact.

The latest figures are up from 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases yesterday.