UK sends 650,000 gloves, wipes and gowns to China to fight Coronavirus crisis

Britain has sent more than 650,000 gloves, wipes and gowns to China as part of efforts to fight the Coronavirus crisis.

Despite an outbreak spiking to more than 220 cases in Italy, Boris Johnson's spokesman insisted the risk to individuals in the UK "remains low".

And he confirmed the extent of the help offered to China by the British government.

The PM's official spokesman said: "We have supplied them with 1,800 goggles, 430,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 facemasks."

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic are growing after a fifth person died in Italy amid a rapid spread of cases there and in South Korea and Iran.

Italy has locked down towns, cancelled Venice Carnival events and disinfected boats and gondolas in the lagoon city in a desperate bid to halt a surge in infections.

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More than 220 people have come down with the virus since Friday, latest data showed, the vast majority of them in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Meanwhile the UK has four new cases – bringing the total to 13 – after Britons rescued from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the flu-like virus.

However, Downing Street insisted the UK was "well prepared" to deal with coronavirus cases.

The UK refused to rule out restrictive measures like those in Italy if they are needed.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We will be led by the advice from public health and medical experts and will take steps which they feel are required to best protect the British public."

But 99% of those tested in the UK had come back negative, the spokesman added.

"We are well prepared for UK cases, we are using tried and tested procedures to prevent further spread and the NHS is extremely well prepared and used to managing infections.

"We continue to work closely with the World Health Organisation and international partners as the situation develops and we remain prepared for all eventualities."

Foreign Office travel advice for Italy was updated over the weekend to reflect the particular situation in parts of the country, the spokesman added.

The surge of cases outside mainland China triggered sharp falls in global share markets and Wall Street stock futures as investors fled to safe havens.

European share markets suffered their biggest slump since mid-2016, gold soared to a seven-year high, oil tumbled nearly 4% and the Korean won fell to its lowest level since August.

But the spread of the disease in China itself, where it began, appeared to be slowing.

Excluding Hubei, mainland China reported 11 new cases, the lowest since the national health authority started publishing nationwide daily figures on January 20.

The coronavirus has infected nearly 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 in China.

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