A patient with underlying health conditions has become the first person to die in the UK after contracting coronavirus.
The person, reported to be a woman in her 70s, had been admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on Wednesday night.
The trust said in a statement on Thursday evening: “Sadly, we can confirm that an older patient with underlying health conditions has died.
“The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus.
“The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
“We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family’s privacy.”
Boris Johnson reacted by saying his sympathies are with the family of the person.
Speaking to reporters, he added: “The situation is pretty much as it has been in the sense that we are still in the contain phase, though now our scientists and medical advisers are making preparations for the delay phase.”
Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, also offered “sincere condolences” to the person’s family and friends and asked “that their request for privacy is respected”.
This evening, @CMO_England confirmed that a patient in England who tested positive for coronavirus (#COVID19) has passed away.— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 5, 2020
The patient was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and had underlying health conditions.
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The patient is the second Brit to die from coronavirus, but the first in the UK.
A man, who has not been named, died on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan on Friday last week.
Thursday’s announcement comes after the Department of Health said the number of UK cases rose to 115 on Thursday.
However, the PA new agency reported the figure was 116.
Eighteen people have so far recovered from coronavirus in the UK, with 45 being treated at home.
Earlier on Thursday, Downing Street said it is “highly likely” that coronavirus will now spread in a “significant way”.
Prof Whitty has also clarified the advice that will be given to the public in the event of a “significant epidemic”.
He said at a press conference: “In the long run, to be clear, if we were to get a significant epidemic our advice would definitely be stay at home.
“It would not make any sense for people with mild symptoms to come into the NHS.
“That would not benefit them and not benefit anyone else.”