Emergency coronavirus plans for UK schools are being drawn up by health officials, which could see doors closed for at least two months.
Under the plans, major sporting events, gigs and music festivals could be cancelled, in a drastic bid to combat the deadly disease.
England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, revealed the plans today and said it is “just a matter of time” until the coronavirus spreads through the UK.
News of the emergency plans come amid reports the first UK national died from the coronavirus in Japan.
The unnamed British man is believed to be one of the quarantined passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
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Six British patients have fallen ill with disease in the last 24 hours, with the first Welsh case reported in Swansea.
The patient is said to of contracted the virus after travelling back from Northern Italy.
Italy is currently the main focus of infection in Europe, after reporting a 25% surge, to 400 cases, in the last two days.
Like Professor Whitty’s proposed plans, which he said are not yet needed, school universities and public events have been cancelled in the European city.
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The London Marathon and the Grand National in April could be at risk of cancellation because of the large number of spectators.
Summer's Euro 2020 tournament may also be at risk as the event is played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome.
Large gigs and music festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds could also be banned if the UK fails to get a grip on a potential crisis.
The NHS has said it is prepared for the growing threat but officials have admitted care could be rationed to those likely to survive the disease.
The World Health Organisation has said the coming days are the "decisive point" in whether the spread of the illness can be halted or whether it develops to be a pandemic.
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