Coronavirus self-isolation advice extended to people returning from Italy

Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy should self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, ministers have said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said official advice, updated at 8am on Tuesday, has been changed to say that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – should self-isolate if they have flu-like symptoms.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he added: "If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government have quarantined then they should self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms."

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

In Italy, where 229 people have tested positive for the virus and seven have died, police have manned checkpoints around a dozen quarantined northern towns.

Schools were closed, theatre performances cancelled, and Venice Carnival celebrations were called off.

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WUHAN, Feb. 13, 2020 -- A staff member works in a laboratory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. As a designated service provider of nucleic acid detection of the novel coronavirus, KingMed Diagnostics laboratory in Wuhan conducts non-stop detection service and detects over 2,000 samples from various cities in Hubei Province every day. (Photo by Cheng Min/Xinhua via Getty Images)
En esta imagen cortesía de la agencia noticiosa china Xinhua, médicos militares chinos llegan al Aeropuerto Internacional Tianhe de la ciudad de Wuhan, en la provincia central de Hubei, el jueves 13 de febrero de 2020. (Li Yun/Xinhua vía AP)
WUHAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13 2020: Tears run out of the eyes of a nurse when she talks about the situation in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The city reported 13,436 new cases of COVID-19 Feb. 12, a big jump after the city combed communities for patients and expanded the capacity to take them in.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13 2020: Medical personnel check the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The city reported 13,436 new cases of COVID-19 Feb. 12, a big jump after the city combed communities for patients and expanded the capacity to take them in.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A worker carts a bin loaded with medical waste to a storage facility at the Youan Hospital in Beijing on February 14, 2020. - Youan Hospital is one of twenty hospitals in Beijing treating coronavirus patients. Six health workers have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said on February 14, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken due to shortages of protective gear. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
Gente de medios de comunicación filman al crucero Diamond Princess anclado en Yokohama, cerca de Tokio, el jueves 13 de febrero de 2020. El barco está en cuarentena debido a que se han reportado casos de coronavirus. (AP Foto/Jae C. Hong)
This photo taken on February 13, 2020 shows a medical staff member (L) talking on her phone as she leaves for Wuhan from Nanchang, China's central Jiangxi province. - The death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic neared 1,400 on February 14, as the United States complained of a "lack of transparency" from Beijing over its handling of a crisis that has fuelled global panic. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13 2020: A doctor checks the conditions of a patient in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The city reported 13,436 new cases of COVID-19 Feb. 12, a big jump after the city combed communities for patients and expanded the capacity to take them in.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Hundreds of people wait in a queue to buy surgical masks at a Bonjour Cosmetics store. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Hundreds of people wait in a queue to buy surgical masks at a Bonjour Cosmetics store. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A woman wearing a protective facemask offers prayers outside the closed Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai on February 14, 2020. - The death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic neared 1,400 on February 14, as the United States complained of a "lack of transparency" from Beijing over its handling of a crisis that has fuelled global panic. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Hospital workers carry a bag of waste at the Youan Hospital in Beijing on February 14, 2020. - Youan Hospital is one of twenty hospitals in Beijing treating coronavirus patients. Six health workers have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said on February 14, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken due to shortages of protective gear. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
A worker carts a bin loaded with medical waste as another disinfects between containers at the Youan Hospital in Beijing on February 14, 2020. - Youan Hospital is one of twenty hospitals in Beijing treating coronavirus patients. Six health workers have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said on February 14, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken due to shortages of protective gear. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
A bus with a driver (L) wearing full protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 14, 2020. - Japanese authorities were preparing Febraury 14 to move some older passengers who tested negative for the new coronavirus off a quarantined cruise ship and into government-designated lodging. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
A worker carts a bin loaded with medical waste to a storage facility at the Youan Hospital in Beijing on February 14, 2020. - Youan Hospital is one of twenty hospitals in Beijing treating coronavirus patients. Six health workers have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said on February 14, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken due to shortages of protective gear. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)
A worker manufactures hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP) (Photo by NHAC NGUYEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Mujeres esperan junto a un aviso de atención médica de Coronavirus en el aeropuerto de Heathrow en Londres.
A man wearing a face mask seen in the city of Hong Kong. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Coronavirus news – live: First patients in UK test positive for deadly virus as plane evacuates 83 Britons from Wuhan
People wear protective facemasks at the Yangon international aiport in Yangon on January 31, 2020. - Myanmar airlines suspend their China flights while the World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the new coronavirus, as China reported on January 31 the death toll had climbed to 213 with nearly 10,000 infections. (Photo by Ye Aung THU / AFP) (Photo by YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman wears a surgical mask on the subway in New York on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Many people have been wearing the mask as protection against the Coronavirus outbreak. (�Photo by Richard B. Levine)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JANUARY 31: Officials make last preparations in Turkish Air Forces A400M cargo plane at Etimesgut Military Airbase in Ankara, Turkey to depart to China to fly Turkish citizens out of the Wuhan, China the epicenter of a recent coronavirus outbreak, on January 31, 2020. (Photo by Ali Murat Alhas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Police escort a bus transporting French citizens after leaving The Vacanciel Holiday Resort in Carry-le-Rouet, near Marseille, southern France on early February 14, 2020, where they spent 14 days in quarantine after their repatriation from Wuhan, China, from where the novel coronavirus has spread. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JANUARY 31: Officials make last preparations before Turkish Air Forces A400M cargo plane takes off from Etimesgut Military Airbase in Ankara, Turkey to depart to China to fly Turkish citizens out of the Wuhan, China the epicenter of a recent coronavirus outbreak, on January 31, 2020. (Photo by Ali Murat Alhas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JANUARY 31: Officials make last preparations before Turkish Air Forces A400M cargo plane takes off from Etimesgut Military Airbase in Ankara, Turkey to depart to China to fly Turkish citizens out of the Wuhan, China the epicenter of a recent coronavirus outbreak, on January 31, 2020. (Photo by Ali Murat Alhas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

When this plane landed in Tokyo Wednesday (January 29), it brought with it at least three new cases of the Wuhan virus into Japan.

Over 200 passengers were on the chartered flight - that was used to evacuate Japanese nationals from Wuhan.

Several countries including the US have begun flying their citizens out of the epicentre of the epidemic, which China has put on virtual lockdown.

Chinese officials say the death toll has climbed to 170 - and on top of the nearly 8 thousand confirmed cases - there's an additional 12 thousand suspected cases of the virus.

Japan's health ministry on Thursday (January 30) confirmed its three new cases.

And said two weren't showing any symptoms when they tested positive for the virus.

One of the major unknowns at the moment is whether people can be contagious before they even realise they're sick - which could make quarantine too late.

Governments and companies worldwide are taking drastic measures to combat the previously unknown coronavirus.

Sweden's Ikea announced Thursday it's temporarily closing all its stores in China.

That follows similar steps by other big international chains - with some closing up to half their shops there.

Companies around the world are warning of a financial hit.

It's also weighing heavily on the world's second largest economy.

One firm warned of a severe near-term blow to China's financial health.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING:

"…we are at an important juncture in this event"

Meanwhile the World Health Organization said on Wednesday they're worried about the progress of the virus.

And said the relatively small number of cases outside China hold the potential of a much larger outbreak.

The WHO's emergency committee is set to reconvene behind closed doors on Thursday.

And decide whether now's the time to call this a global emergency.

Hundreds of people wait in a queue to buy surgical masks at a Bonjour Cosmetics store. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A lady seen in her mask as hundreds of people wait in a queue to buy surgical masks at a Bonjour Cosmetics store. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A man wearing a face mask seen in the city of Hong Kong. As coronavirus spreads, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday as officials consider whether to declare a public health emergency. (Photo by Keith Tsuji / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People seen wearing face masks on the streets of Orchard Road on 31 January, 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)
Travellers in face masks at Jewel Changi Airport amid the global Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in January 2020. PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore
People seen wearing face masks on the streets of Orchard Road on 31 January, 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)
Indonesian health officials distribute face masks at the Panjang port in Lampung on January 29, 2020. - China has enacted extraordinary measures to contain the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed more than 130 people, infected thousands and reached some 15 countries. (Photo by PERDIANSYAH / AFP) (Photo by PERDIANSYAH/AFP via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 28: A sign reading "We have no more face masks. Sorry for the inconvenience." is seen at a pharmacy in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on January 28, 2020. Vancouver health authorities confirmed first case of coronavirus in BC on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 28: People wearing face masks are seen at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on January 28, 2020. Vancouver health authorities confirmed first case of coronavirus in BC on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 28: People wearing face masks are seen at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on January 28, 2020. Vancouver health authorities confirmed first case of coronavirus in BC on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. (Photo by Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Motorists wear face masks as they ride a motocycle along a street in Phnom Penh on January 29, 2020. - Cambodia's health ministry reported the country's first case of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen on January 27: a 60-year-old man who arrived in the country from Wuhan and is now stable in an isolation room. (Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP) (Photo by TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty Images)
People with protective face masks receive desinfectant solution as they enter a shopping mall in Bangkok on January 29, 2020. - Thailand has detected 14 cases so far of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen, an outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)
People with protective face masks pass in front of a thermal scanner as they enter a shopping mall in Bangkok on January 29, 2020. - Thailand has detected 14 cases so far of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen, an outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)
People queue outside a pharmacy to purchase protective face mask, thermometer and hand sanitizer in Singapore on January 29, 2020. - Singapore has so far confirmed seven cases of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen -- all of them arrivals from Wuhan. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
People queue inside a pharmacy to purchase protective face mask, thermometer and hand sanitizer in Singapore on January 29, 2020. - Singapore has so far confirmed seven cases of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen -- all of them arrivals from Wuhan. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: A tourist from Hong Kong is seen wearing a mask at Mrs Macquarie's Chair on January 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now killed 132 people - mostly in China - and as of Wednesday morning had 6,000 confirmed cases while thousands more people remain under observation. Five cases have been confirmed in Australia, four in New South Wales and one in Victoria. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 29: Passengers arriving on flights wear protective masks at the international airport on January 29, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, however health authorities remain on high alert as more cases of the deadly flu-like virus are confirmed around the world. The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now killed 132 people - mostly in China - and as of Wednesday morning had 6,000 confirmed cases while thousands more people remain under observation. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: People are seen leaving the arrivals terminal at Sydney International airport on January 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now killed 132 people - mostly in China - and as of Wednesday morning had 6,000 confirmed cases while thousands more people remain under observation. Five cases have been confirmed in Australia, four in New South Wales and one in Victoria. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Residents wearing face masks purchase seafood at a wet market on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Residents wearing face masks photograph fireworks celebrating the Lunar New Year on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Residents wearing face masks walk on a street on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Residents wait in line to purchase surgical masks at a pharmacy on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Residents wearing face masks shop at a market on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: People wearing face masks take a selfie on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: People wearing face masks attend a Lunar New Year exhibition at Municipal Affairs Bureau Building on January 28, 2020 in Macau, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 4000 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan last week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city which is the epicentre of the virus and neighbouring municipalities affecting tens of millions of people. At least six people have reportedly contracted the virus in Macau. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to over 100 on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/01/28: Women sitting on the street with sanitary masks to prevent infections. Since the spread of the corona virus, the death stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day to more than 4,500. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/01/28: Pedestrians with sanitary masks to prevent infections. Since the spread of the corona virus, the death stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day to more than 4,500. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/01/28: A woman purchases vegetables at a street market in Hong Kong. Since the spread of the corona virus, the death stands at 106, with the number of infections almost doubling in a day to more than 4,500. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A man wearing a protective mask seen at Changi Airport in Singapore. Many people have started wearing protective masks in many places around the world due to the fear of Wuhan coronovirus outbreak. Ten people tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore as of 29th January 2020- as reported by the country's Ministry of Health (MOH). (Photo by Maverick Asio / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Flower shop owner Iris Leung wears her protective face mask as she delivers flowers with masks to customers on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. COVID-19 viral illness has sickened tens of thousands of people in China since December. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Workers wearing protective face masks clean a street in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. COVID-19 viral illness has sickened tens of thousands of people in China since December. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A security guard wearing a protective face mask checks the temperature of a cleaning woman in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. COVID-19 viral illness has sickened tens of thousands of people in China since December. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Residentes esperan para entrar a un punto de control que dice "punto de registro para personas que regresan a Beijing" en Beijing, China, el jueves 13 de febrero de 2020. (AP Foto/Ng Han Guan)
French citizens wait to board a bus to leave The Vacanciel Holiday Resort in Carry-le-Rouet, near Marseille, southern France on early February 14, 2020, where they spent 14 days in quarantine after their repatriation from Wuhan, China, from where the novel coronavirus has spread. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13 2020: A medical staff works in the negative-pressure isolation ward in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. The city reported 13,436 new cases of COVID-19 Feb. 12, a big jump after the city combed communities for patients and expanded the capacity to take them in.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
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Mr Hancock said the Government was not aware of any Britons who were in the quarantined areas of northern Italy, but he urged anyone there to make contact with the embassy in Rome.

The minister added that there were no changes to travel advice about going to Italy but those returning and showing symptoms should self-isolate.

He added: "In terms of going to Italy as a whole we haven't changed that travel advice.

"But we are clear that, if you come back from northern Italy and you have symptoms, then you should self-isolate."

Stigma can:

🔹 Drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination🔹Prevent people from seeking health care immediately🔹Discourage them from adopting healthy behaviourshttps://t.co/7kH9y0NViC#COVID19#coronaviruspic.twitter.com/IIn1fFXyR5

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 25, 2020

The new travel advice comes as World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus warned that, while the spread of the virus around the world is not yet at pandemic stage, it has the potential to become one.

But Mr Hancock said the UK has done a "huge amount" of work preparing in case coronavirus became a pandemic, including setting up testing facilities outside A&Es and preparing home testing kits.

He added: "Since the outbreak became public at the start of this year, we have been doing a huge amount of work to prepare in case this becomes a pandemic.

"Once it gets to that point there isn't a way to stop it coming into the UK in a big way.

"it is not yet clear that it will become a pandemic – the number of cases in China has been slowing over the last couple of weeks and we are relatively confident that information is correct.

"Now there are more cases outside China, but at the moment if those countries get their response right and get the numbers coming down as China has then there still is the possibility this is a relatively small outbreak in the UK.

"We still expect more cases but a the moment there are 13 cases in the UK."

In the UK, 13 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 caused by the virus, including four over the weekend who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was held in quarantine in Japan.

Coronavirus.
Coaches carrying passengers repatriated to the UK from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrive at Arrowe Park Hospital (Danny Lawson/PA)

The four Britons from the cruise ship are being treated at specialist centres and were among a group of 30 Britons and two Irish citizens who arrived at a quarantine block at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside on Saturday.

Two of the patients are in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, one is in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and a fourth was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths on Tuesday, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December.

The updates bring mainland China's totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths, while South Korea now has the second highest number of cases in the world with 893 and eight deaths.

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