UK Health Officials Declare Coronavirus 'Level Four Incident' - The Highest Category
Public Health England bosses warn more COVID-19 cases are 'highly likely' in the UK
Health officials from the UK's NHS England have declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a level four incident - the highest possible level of emergency.
An NHS spokeswoman said the government "moved to a national incident response Level 4 to ramp up preparation for a potential coronavirus outbreak in January."
A national incident management team and coordination center have been set up to tackle the deadly virus, which causes the disease named COVID-19.
This comes as two more people in the UK tested positive for the China-born bug.
Coronavirus cases are rising in the UK, with the total number of people infected reaching 51.
As panic about a pandemic spreads, UK medics are working "round the clock" to prevent coronavirus.
Public Health England bosses have now confirmed more cases are "highly likely" in the UK.
Speaking from Parliament, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said the response to the outbreak remains in the containment phase.
The government’s current approach is to "plan for the worst and work for the best," he added.
He told MPs that experts are "actively pursuing" a vaccine to the strain of coronavirus.
However, he warned that a vaccine is still many months away at the earliest.
The updated toll was released as Boris Johnson said it is "highly likely" the UK will see a growing number of coronavirus cases.
But the Prime Minister stressed that "for the vast majority of people in this country we should be going about our business as usual."
During a press conference in 10 Downing Street, Mr. Johnson outlined the Government’s plan to "contain, delay, research, mitigate" a potentially serious outbreak.
He warned that up to one-fifth of employees in all sectors "may be absent from work during peak weeks."
Police would also have to concentrate on serious crimes and public order if forces suffer large staff absences during an outbreak.