Coronavirus is now in every continent bar Antarctica after Brazil confirms first case

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Brazil - meaning the infection would have spread to every continent on the planet barring Antarctica.

Health officials confirmed on Wednesday that the first case of the fast-spreading virus had been detected.

It comes as health officials look to contain the spread of the virus worldwide.

In the 7,132 people in the UK have so far been tested. Of these, 13 have tested positive, of whom eight have been discharged from hospital

The 61-year-old patient in Brazil is thought to have recorded a positive test on Tuesday night, having recently returned to the country from northern Italy, the most-affected coronavirus region in Europe.

Local reports said the patient had mild signs of the illness and is currently in isolation at home.

Elsewhere, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that while the immediate risk there was low the global situation suggested a pandemic was likely and a question of when, not if.

A police officer wearing a mask talks on the phone in front of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain. (AP)

Fears are intensifying over the spread of coronavirus in Europe as France reported its second death and the number of people in Italy with the virus continues to climb.

Authorities in Italy have reported that the number of people infected in the country grew to 322, or up 45% in 24 hours, and 11 people have now died.

Austria, Croatia and Switzerland also reported their first cases linked to the outbreak in Italy, while Spain and France recorded new ones, also involving people who had been to northern Italy.

School closures

The first case of coronavirus in Brazil comes as British schools have closed over fears the virus could spread.

Some have closed while others have sent pupils home for fear they may have been exposed to coronavirus during ski trips to northern Italy.

On Tuesday, Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, and Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough announced they would be closed for the rest of the week.

Both schools said that this was to allow for a "deep clean" after pupils and teachers had returned from ski trips in northern Italy.

Trinity Catholic College said that a "small number of staff and pupils" had started showing mild flu-like symptoms following a ski trip.

Forza Italia MP Matteo Dall'Osso and Maria Teresa Baldini of the Brothers of Italy wearing protective masks in the Chamber. (PA)
Child wearing a protective face mask against the coronavirus at the park while playing football in Rome, Italy. (PA)

Lutton St Nicholas and Gedney Church End primary schools in Lincolnshire also said they had closed "because of a potential connection to the Coronavirus by an individual within the school" and St Christopher's C of E High School in Accrington told parents it would be shut on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sandbach High School in Cheshire said students and staff who visited Aprica, in Italy's Lombardy region, were to stay indoors and self-isolate.

A third Cheshire school, Brine Leas School in Nantwich, said its sixth form was closed due to staff shortages following Government advice regarding travel to Italy.

Students from Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby and Newquay Tretherras in Newquay, have also been advised to stay home after returning from ski trips.

A technician examines the test kits for coronavirus at a company, Yangzhou city, east China's Jiangsu province. (PA)

Flu patients to be tested

In the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested today that home testing will be rolled out more widely, to complement existing hospital testing and the “isolation pods” which have been sited at hospitals in England for people who turn up at A&E with symptoms.

He added: “We have a clear, four-part plan to respond to the outbreak of this disease: contain, delay, research and mitigate.”

Public Health England also announced that flu patients will now be assessed for coronavirus to see if it is spreading.

Hancock added that official advice has been changed to say people who have been to anywhere in Italy north of Pisa should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.

Read more: These are the 9 countries where the coronavirus has become fatal

Britons who have been in locked-down regions of Italy - including Lombardy and Veneto - were told they should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.

The Foreign Office later updated its travel advice, with a spokesman saying: "We advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, which are currently in isolation due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.

"Any British nationals already in these towns should follow the advice of the local authorities."

People stand on their balconies of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife. (AP)
Hotel workers queue to get tested at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife. (AP)

Hotel lockdowns

Britons were among the 700 guests at hotel in Tenerife who were told to stay in their rooms after an Italian doctor there was diagnosed with coronavirus.

The Italian doctor and his wife tested positive and were placed in isolation in hospital, the Canary Islands government confirmed.

It said the couple had travelled with eight other Italians who were showing no symptoms.

The Canary Islands government added that more than 100 tourists at the hotel who are believed to have not had any contact with the couple will be allowed to leave, but it is not known if they include any Britons.

Read more: Five European nations confirm new coronavirus cases

A Foreign Office spokesman said its staff was offering advice and support to British people at the hotel.

The 108-room Grand Hotel Europa in the Alpine tourist hub of Innsbruck in Austria was sealed off after a receptionist was one of the first two cases of the virus in the country, Reuters reported.

Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a bus garage in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)
A Catholic devotee wearing a protective mask prays during Ash Wednesday rites in the Philippines. (AP)

Coronavirus in numbers

As of Tuesday this week, a total of 6,795 people have been tested in the UK with 13 positive cases.

The Department of Health also added Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and parts of northern Italy to the list of places where travellers need to follow clinical advice.

China has reported 78,064 cases and 2,715 deaths, while South Korea has the second highest number of cases with 1,261 and 11 deaths.