Two people from the same family have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the chief medical officer for England has announced.

It is understood the patients were staying in a hotel in Yorkshire, before being taken overnight to a specialist centre in Newcastle.

At least 213 people in China have died from the virus, with almost 10,000 cases nationally.

Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said the NHS was “extremely well-prepared for managing infections” and it was quickly trying to identify any contacts the patients had to prevent further spread.

“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately,” he added.

Prof Whitty said the UK was working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international community as the outbreak in China develops “to ensure we are ready for all eventualities”.

Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, said the possibility of further spread was “minimal” because the cases were caught early.

“For the majority of those who contract this virus, the outcome will be a mild respiratory illness from which they will recover,” he said.

It was a situation “that should not cause undue alarm”, Prof Jones added.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday.

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has now surpassed that of the Sars epidemic, which spread to more than two dozen countries in 2003.

The mortality rate for the new strain of coronavirus is currently low, at 2% – less than Sars at 10% and Ebola at 70%, the chief medical officer says.

But the death rate could yet go up if more of those in hospital die, or down if it’s discovered there are many other people with mild symptoms.

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