Further measures are expected to be announced in the UK battle against coronavirus after a patient in Wolverhampton became the first person in the West Midlands to die after testing positive for Covid-19.
The patient, understood to be a woman, was aged in her 70s, had underlying health conditions and is thought to have caught the virus in the UK.
She was being treated at New Cross Hospital on Monday became the fourth person in the UK to die after testing positive.
A total of six coronavirus patients have now died in the UK and the start of the UK peak of the coronavirus epidemic is expected within the next fortnight.
A drive-thru coronavirus testing centre has now been set up in Wolverhampton as health officials urged people to avoid heading to hospitals.
News of the woman's death came as Italy's premier Guiseppe Conte put his entire country on lockdown in a bid to halt the spread off coronavirus, banning all but the most important travel and halting social gatherings.
Meanwhile the first case of coronavirus in Dudley has been confirmed and Wolves' Europa League match at Olympiacos is set to be played behind closed doors on Thursday, should it go ahead at all.
The patient who died in Wolverhampton is one of three people to have tested positive in the city so far. One case was confirmed on Sunday and two more were confirmed on Monday.
Five patients have also been diagnosed in Staffordshire and Birmingham.
More on coronavirus:
Sally Evans, a spokeswoman for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust which runs New Cross, said: "The trust can confirm that a patient in their 70s being treated for underlying health conditions has died. The patient had tested positive for Covid-19.
"The family has been informed and our condolences 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."
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: "I am very sorry to report that a fourth patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died.
"I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected.
"It appears the virus was acquired in the UK and full contact tracing has begun."
Councillor Ian Brookfield, the leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: "It's tragic to hear that a Wolverhampton resident with underlying health conditions who tested positive for coronavirus has sadly passed away.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with their family and friends at this incredible difficult time.
"I'd like to reassure the people of Wolverhampton that the risk of infection is still very low - and that the council is working with the NHS, Public Health England and other partners at a regional and national level to help reduce the risk of further cases."
Saddened to hear a patient has died of Coronavirus at New Cross Hospital. Thoughts are with their family & friends.— Jane Stevenson MP (@Jane_Stevenson_) March 9, 2020
I've asked @MattHancock about safely of visitors, staff & patients. He assured me staff are well-prepared & asked us to follow govt advice https://t.co/kVGRz5RkHp
Elsewhere Wolverhampton honeymoon couple Alan Steele and Wendy Marshall Steele, who were caught up on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship, have been speaking of their experiences after being released from quarantine in the UK.
Britons with “minor” cold, flu or fever symptoms could soon to be asked to stay at home in self-isolation in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, while new Government advice has warned against all but essential travel to Italy.
A total of 373 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Tuesday, up from 319 at the same point on Monday, the Department of Health said.
The fifth patient to die, who was being treated at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, south London, was in their seventies and was unwell with a number of significant and long-term health conditions.
In other developments:
The FCO said US authorities are planning a flight on Tuesday to repatriate British nationals on the Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland, California
The University of Oxford confirmed a second student had tested positive for Covid-19
Updated guidance for pregnancy advised expectant mothers with suspected or confirmed coronavirus to attend an obstetric unit for birth
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the hours which deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers will be extended to help the industry respond
Independent London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart criticised the Government’s “half-hearted measures” in response to the outbreak
Tedros Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), told reporters the global spread of Covid-19 made a pandemic threat “very real”
Aintree University Hospital said it remained open although a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a holiday in Italy
The France vs Ireland Six Nations rugby match due to be held in Paris on Saturday was postponed on the advice of national authorities
All St Patrick’s Day parades in the Republic of Ireland are to be cancelled in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty pointed to tighter measures aimed at protecting the public, particularly the vulnerable and elderly, which could be implemented in the next 10 to 14 days.
It came as the Government tightened travel restrictions on coronavirus-stricken Italy following the announcement that Italian authorities were to extend quarantine measures to the whole country.
During a Downing Street press conference on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the UK will almost certainly move to the delay phase of tackling coronavirus.
Mr Johnson said that although the UK currently remains in the contain phase of the response, “extensive preparations” are being made for a move to the delay phase – which seeks to put off the peak of the outbreak until summer.
Meanwhile, official NHS guidance is to be displayed at the top of internet search results as part of measures to stop the spread of disinformation around the outbreak.
And in developments on how the virus is behaving, experts have said people infected with Covid-19 could go five days without showing any symptoms.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated the average incubation period of the virus to be 5.1 days.
Another study found that being older, showing signs of sepsis and having blood clots were key factors associated with a higher risk of death.