Skip to main content
28 Feb 2020 | 10:23 PM UTC

UK: First Briton dies from COVID-19 February 28 /update 4

UK's first COVID-19-related fatality confirmed in Briton from cruise ship, 20 confirmed cases; further spread of the virus expected in the near term



The first Briton died from coronavirus (COVID-19) on Friday, February 28, after contracting the virus on the Princess Diamond cruise ship moored in Yokohama (Japan). Ministry of Health officials confirmed 20 cases of COVID-19 throughout the UK as of Friday. The most recent confirmed case represented the first local transmission, with the source of the infection still unidentified as of February 28. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that coronavirus is now the government's top priority. Government officials are expected to meet on Monday, March 2, to discuss the situation. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

As of Wednesday, February 26, the British government has implemented containment measures for individuals who have visited South Korea's Daegu city and Cheongdo district, in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Korean Air website indicates that "anyone who has visited Daegu/Cheongdo in Korea, or nationals of South Korea from Daegu/Cheongdo will be quarantined for 14 days in the United Kingdom." 

British Airways flights to and from mainland China, including Beijing and Shanghai, remain canceled until April 17.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "'very high' at global level."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.