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COVID-19: UK must be prepared for ‘widespread transmission’ of coronavirus

The warning comes as Boris Johnson prepares to chair his first emergency COBRA meeting on coronavirus.

Britain needs to be prepared for “more widespread transmission” of the coronavirus – including cases that might be “quite challenging”, Public Health England has warned.

It comes as Boris Johnson chaired his first COBRA meeting on coronavirus after the UK saw its largest leap in cases on Sunday.

The number of Britons who have tested positive for COVID-19 has climbed to 36, with cases now in all four UK countries.

Mr Johnson said after the talks that the problem was “likely to become more significant” in the next days and weeks, but added: “This country is very, very well-prepared.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L) and chief medical officer Chris Whitty (right) arrive at Downing Street for the emergency Cobra meeting on coronavirus
Image:Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L) and chief medical officer Chris Whitty arrive at Downing Street for the emergency Cobra meeting on coronavirus

The emergency meeting was attended by senior ministers including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, as well as chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also took part via a conference call.

Speaking from Edinburgh after the talks, Ms Sturgeon said a “four nations action plan” would be published on Tuesday setting out the different phases to tackle “an infection of this nature”.

But she stressed the UK was still in the “contain” phase of dealing with the virus.

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