Four UK nationals who were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and evacuated to Britain have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Department of Health said the latest cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 13.
A repatriation flight carrying 32 Britons and Europeans from the cruise ship landed in the UK on Saturday. The passengers were taken to Arrowe Park hospital in the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.
All of the passengers on board tested negative for the coronavirus before they flew.
Arrowe Park had previously been used to quarantine 83 British nationals earlier this month after they were flown out of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
The chief medical officer said: “Four further patients in England have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to thirteen.”
“The virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and the patients are being transferred from Arrowe Park to specialist NHS infection centres.”
The epidemic, which originated in China, has now spread to nearly 30 countries.
Italy is trying to contain the biggest outbreak of the virus in Europe by putting the worst affected towns into lockdown. Police are patrolling 11 towns, mostly in the Lombardy region in the north, that have been in lockdown since last Friday.
Iran said it had confirmed 43 cases and eight deaths, with most of the infections in the holy city of Qom.
South Korea declared a red alert today after reporting more than 100 new cases and a sixth death from the virus.
More than half of the 602 confirmed cases are linked to a church in the southeastern city of Daegu. A woman, known as “Patient 31”, tested positive for the virus last week but had no recent record of overseas travel.