The UK government on Monday declared the deadly coronavirus a "serious and imminent threat" to public health, as it announced new powers to fight its spread.

Under the measures, people can now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave, the BBC reported. In a statement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Arrowe Park Hospital, on the Wirral, and Kents Hill Park conference centre, in Milton Keynes, have been designated as "isolation" facilities in the UK.

Britons evacuated from Wuhan quarantined

It comes after the Foreign Office chartered two repatriation flights out of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. On Sunday, around 200 British and foreign nationals evacuated on the UK's final rescue flight arrived at RAF Brize Norton. Evacuees were taken to Kents Hill Park for 14 days of quarantine. Britons evacuated on an earlier flight from Wuhan are currently in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital.

British Flag
Representational Picture Pixabay

Tightening regulations

A Department of Health spokesman said on Monday: "We are strengthening our regulations so we can keep individuals in supported isolation for their own safety and if public health professionals consider they may be at risk of spreading the virus to other members of the public.

"This measure will rightly make it easier for health professionals to help keep people safe across the country." There have been more than 40,000 cases of the virus globally, mostly in China, with four so far in the UK.

Global scene

On Sunday, Feb. 9, the death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus [2019-nCoV] outbreak reached 910, with 40,554 cases reported from around the world. But Sunday turned out to be the deadliest day, with 97 deaths reported in a single day - all in mainland China, reported the Global Times. Besides this, 3,062 new cases were reported on Sunday, taking the total reported cases so far to 40,171 in mainland China alone.