The third confirmed case of coronavirus in the United Kingdom was not contracted inside of China, British health authorities said.
“The individual did not acquire this in the UK,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a statement on Thursday.
The patient, whose gender and age weren’t given, was being transferred to a National Health Service (NHS) special facility.
“We are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus,” Whitty said. The service was prepared to manage the confirmed cases and health workers are working on identifying any contacts the patient has had.
Whitty said that the new patient “acquired it in Asia but not in China.”
“Because of that, it is probably now prudent to slightly widen the geographical area where doctors in the UK and NHS know they should test people if they come with the right symptoms.”
He did not name the country from where the patient had returned. He said a wider list of countries would be released shortly from which people who developed symptoms should self-isolate if they showed any of the coronavirus symptoms.
The other two confirmed patients, who are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle, caught the virus in China.
Some two dozen countries have reported confirmed coronavirus cases in addition to China, where the majority of the cases and most of the deaths have occurred. Twelve cases have been confirmed in Germany, the European country with the highest number, and six in France.
Russia and Italy have each reported two while Finland, Spain, Sweden, and Belgium have reported one each.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus is a new respiratory illness not previously seen in humans. Coronaviruses typically appear in animals but in rare cases leap to humans, with previous outbreaks including SARS and MERS.
Experts have not confirmed the origin of the new coronavirus but some studies have indicated a link to bats. The virus has spread in some countries from person to person, including Germany, the United States, and Japan.
NHS recommends on its website for people to contact the service if they’ve returned from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the last 14 days, even if they don’t display symptoms of the virus.
People returning from other parts of mainland China in the last 14 days were advised to contact health authorities if they begin coughing or have a fever.
“This means staying at home for 14 days after arriving from Wuhan or Hubei Province (or other parts of China if you have symptoms) and not going to work, school or public areas. Try to avoid having visitors to your home, but it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food. While the risk to the UK population remains low, these steps are recommended to limit the potential spread of infection,” the service stated.
People returning from Wuhan or Hubei Province or those returning from other parts of China, if they have symptoms, were told not to use public transportation or taxis until two weeks after they return. They should self-isolate at home and ask a friend, family member, or delivery service to bring them food and run other errands.
The country’s chief medical officers raised the risk to the public to moderate from low but say the risk to individuals remains low.
Reuters contributed to this report.