Coronavirus spreads as first patients who didn’t visit Wuhan contract killer bug

Signs that the coronavirus outbreak is spreading globally have emerged as Japan and Germany confirmed the first cases involving patients who didn't visit the epicentre in China.

A Japanese tour bus driver contracted the SARS-like virus while ferrying Chinese holidaymakers who were visiting from Wuhan earlier this month.

In the first confirmed case in Germany, a man living near Munich was believed to have been infected there by a Chinese colleague.

The flu-like illness has killed at least 106 people and infected more than 4,500 others in China, with most of the cases in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

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It is thought that the virus was passed to humans late last month at a market in Wuhan that sold live animals, seafood and illegal wildlife.

Most cases reported around the world so far have involved patients who had recently visited Hubei.

No cases have been confirmed in Britain, although Public Health England has warned that the virus is likely already here.

More than 70 people in the UK have been tested after travelling from Wuhan and all the results have come back negative.

Meanwhile, up to 500 Britons are stranded in Wuhan, one of a number of Chinese cities to be locked down in a desperate bid to prevent the illness from spreading.

Many have called on the UK Government to send a plane to rescue them.

The city of 11million has been called a "ghost town" after flights were grounded, public transport was halted and checkpoints were set on roads.

Residents and visitors have been told to remain in the city.

Britain is urgently exploring options to for its citizens to leave Wuhan and is finalising details of the plan, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

The Downing Street spokesman said: "The FCO [Foreign Office] is urgently exploring options for British nationals to leave Hubei province.

"Details are being finalised and the FCO will confirm these as soon as they can."

In the case involving the Japanese bus driver, the man in his 60s, from Nara prefecture, had contact with visitors from Wuhan between January 8 and 16.

He began showing symptoms on January 14 and was hospitalised on Saturday before being diagnosed, according to Japanese health officials.

Japan has reported six confirmed cases and all but one involved patients who had recently been in Wuhan.

Germany declared its first confirmed case on Monday, saying a man in the town of Starnberg, near Munich, had tested positive.

The man was in "good condition" and isolated in hospital.

Hong Kong is suspending high-speed rail and ferry links with mainland China to prevent the killer bug from spreading.

The number of flights to mainland China will be halved and personal travel permits for mainland Chinese to the city suspended.

The former British colony had eight confirmed infections, while 100 patients were in quarantine.

Coronavirus is a respiratory infection that is spread from person to person in droplets from coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing or a cough, and the virus can cause pneumonia and other complications.

Chinese officials have said it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show and carriers could spread the virus to others before they are diagnosed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that of 37 cases identified outside of China, three were detected without the onset of symptoms.

Professor David Fisman, of the University of Toronto, told AFP that the outbreak could last months.

He said: "The best-case scenario, you would have something… where we go through the spring into the summer, and then it dies down."

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