Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Live Reporting

Georgina Rannard, Patrick Jackson, Mary O'Connor, Owen Amos, Yvette Tan, Joshua Nevett, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and Joshua Cheetham

All times stated are UK

  1. Thanks for reading

    People wear medical masks

    We're going to pause live updates now, after another busy day covering the spread of the new coronavirus.

    But, as you'd expect, we’ll continue to cover this story across the BBC website. You can read our main story here.

    A reminder of key developments today:

    • Israel reported its first case, involving a man who had recently returned from Italy
    • Friday prayers were cancelled in Iran’s capital Tehran. The country's health minister and a vice-president are among high-profile politicians who have tested positive for the virus
  2. Switzerland sets up new laboratories

    Imogen Foulkes

    BBC News, Geneva

    Ten new laboratories have been set up, to analyse 1,000 possible cases a day. Four cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country. The Swiss knew it was only a matter of time. The sudden surge in cases in Italy made that inevitable. The two countries share extensive borders, tens of thousands of people cross daily to work. The government strategy is to be thorough, but calm. Borders will not be closed, but border guards are issuing health advice.

    A nationwide campaign, with the slogan "This affects us all!" will begin on Friday. The risk to the general public remains low, but we are being urged to wash our hands often. Hand sanitiser has sold out in Bern, popular cafes are quieter than usual.

    Right now, the economic damage is far greater than that to health: the Geneva watch fair, hugely lucrative to the city, has been cancelled. Tourism from China is down 50%, tourist resorts report a loss, already, of more than 20m francs (£16m; $20m).

  3. The picture in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria

    Nick Thorpe, BBC News

    In Romania, the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on Wednesday, a man from Gorj county in the south of the country, on the border with Bulgaria.

    He had been in contact with an Italian citizen who visited his family in the city of Craiova between 18 and 22 February, who was confirmed ill with the virus after he returned to Italy.

    The Romanian authorities are trying to trace and put into quarantine everyone he met in Romania.

    91 people are currently in quarantine, and 7,174 are in isolation at home. One million Romanians work in Italy, and there are direct flights from 14 Romanian cities.

    Harder to monitor are the large numbers of migrant labourers, who travel between the two countries by minibus or private car.

    In Hungary, there’s growing concern and some panic-buying of face masks and hand disinfectants, but no confirmed cases. 18 people are in quarantine after visiting northern Italy, including schoolchildren and a lorry driver.

    Around 3,500 people have been screened so far at Budapest airport. Last week was half-term in many schools, and northern Italy is a popular region for Hungarian families to go skiing.

    The authorities have earmarked two major Budapest hospitals for future cases.

    In Bulgaria, the government sent a special plane to bring back 20 agriculture students from Italy. They are now under medical observation.

    Bulgaria Air have cancelled flights to Milan until the end of March.

    Thermal cameras which measure travellers’ temperatures are being installed at land border crossings as well as airports. Anyone with a temperature over 37 degrees is screened for the virus.

  4. Fourth Iranian politician tests positive

    Iran's Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has become the fourth politician to contract the virus.

    Her case is mild and she has not gone into hospital, state media say.

    Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi and two MPs also have the virus.

    The WHO's Michael Ryan said the extent of infection in Iran could be "broader than we think". But he said the country had high capacity to cope with outbreaks of infection.

    Iranian Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar
    Image caption: Iranian Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar
  5. Some Tenerife hotel guests 'can leave'

    Dan Johnson

    BBC News

    The Canary Islands health minister has announced that 130 tourists will be able to leave the Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, currently on lockdown because of a coronavirus outbreak.

    Out of about 700 guests, 130 arrived on Monday - some because flights were delayed by a sandstorm - and so didn’t come into contact with the four Italians who originally tested positive

    The UK's Foreign Office said consular staff in Tenerife has made contact with the majority of the 168 British tourists believed to be staying at the hotel.

    Some of those are understood to fall within the 130 but it’s not clear how many.

  6. 'Coronavirus will not be another Spanish Flu pandemic'

    While the coronavirus presents "some challenges", it will not be anything like the scale of the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic, England's chief medical officer has said.

    Speaking to health professionals at the Nuffield Trust Summit in Windsor, Professor Chris Whitty said: "We are not heading into a H1N1 1918 flu pandemic situation but the coronavirus does present some challenges for us. It definitely will for a period. How big remains to be seen."

    The H1N1 influenza pandemic in 1918 is estimated to have killed between 40 and 50 million people worldwide.

    Prof Whitty added the virus was "a global problem or it is nothing".

    He said: "If it becomes a global epidemic then the UK will get it, and if it does not become a global epidemic the UK is perfectly capable of containing and getting rid of individual cases leading to onward transmission."

    He said onward transmission in the UK was "just a matter of time in my view".

    Prof Whitty said there could be a "social cost" if the virus worsens, which could result in the reduction of mass gatherings and school closures for more than two months.

  7. More stock market losses

    Global investors have been hit with a sixth day of stock market losses as traders respond to the threat of the coronavirus.

    The string of declines pushed indexes in Europe and the US down more than 10% from their recent highs - sending them into so-called "correction" territory.

    Read here for more on this business story.

  8. Officials tracing 'close contacts' of Derbyshire case

    Public Health England is contacting people who had "close contact" with one of the latest confirmed cases of Covid-19.

    The patient is a Derbyshire resident who became infected whilst in Tenerife, in Spain's Canary Islands, Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, centre director Public Health England in the East Midlands, said.

    "Close contacts", he said, will be given "health advice" about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the next 14 days after contact with the confirmed cases.

    There was, he added, currently no information to suggest there was any increased health risk to any pupils or staff at Burbage Primary School, in Buxton, which closed because of the case, and "no public health reason" for it to remain closed.

    Dean Wallace, director of public health for Derbyshire County Council, said the risk to the general public "remains low" and reminded people that "good hygiene" measures - such as washing hands regularly - were "the best prevention".

  9. UK plans for worst-case scenario

    Lewis Goodall

    Policy Editor, BBC Newsnight

    The BBC's Newsnight programme understands that the Cabinet Office has been in contact with local authorities about their preparedness, specifically with regard to their “Excess Death Contingency Planning”. This includes, among other things, where local authorities might locate new, and perhaps mass, burial sites, should they be needed.

    The government stresses that these are worst-case contingency plans and a Whitehall source confirms that they have been done before, albeit rarely, for example at the time of the 2009 Sars outbreak.

    A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We have been clear from the outset that we expect coronavirus to have some impact on the UK, which is why we are planning for every eventuality – including the reasonable worst case scenario. Crucially this does not mean we expect it to happen."

  10. How does the new coronavirus compare with other outbreaks?

    There are similarities between the spread of the new coronavirus and other epidemics in the past.

    For example, Sars and Mers were two other types of viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

    Sars spread across the globe in 2003, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing 774.

    But there are two key differences between Sars and the current coronavirus outbreak.

    Firstly, the new coronavirus spread more quickly and further afield from its origin (the city of Wuhan in China) than Sars did.

    Secondly, data suggests the new coronavirus is less deadly than Sars.

    The graphic below highlights these differences.

    A graphic showing the difference between the new coronavirus, Sars and Mers
  11. China 'quarantines passengers flying from Iran'

    China has quarantined dozens of passengers arriving on a flight from Iran after one person tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post.

    This would be China's first known, imported case of coronavirus.

    The Aeroflot flight arrived in Shanghai via Moscow on 20 February.

  12. Masked mascot

    In Chiayi City, Taiwan, this art installation called The Sleeping Bear reminds people to wear face masks.

    An art installation called The Sleeping Bear reminds people to wear face masks in Taiwan
  13. 'Every possible preparation' - UK PM

    Asked this morning what reassurances could be given to the British public over the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I think it’s absolutely vital that people do feel reassured.

    "The NHS is a fantastic service and we’ve made every possible preparation for any eventuality, and if you are concerned about travelling abroad to an area that’s infected, the key thing is to look at the foreign office website.”

    His comments come after two more patients tested positive for coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of UK cases to 15.

  14. Spanish concern over local contagion

    Guy Hedgecoe

    Freelance journalist

    A sudden rise in the number of cases of coronavirus in Spain this week has made it a talking point, although there is little sense of panic among the general population.

    However, there is increased concern following the news that a Spanish man in Seville had become infected without having travelled abroad recently. This was the first such case of local contagion, suggesting the virus has been present in Spain longer than previously thought.

    “As long as we see a rise in imported cases or local cases of infection, the risk factor will rise,” said Fernando Simón, head of the Spanish government’s health emergency department.

    “Obviously it is to be expected... that there will be fatalities.”

    The lockdown of a hotel in Tenerife with nearly 1,000 people in it has been the most visible instance of disruption so far, but there are now fears that events surrounding Easter Week, a major holiday in Spain, will be affected.

  15. 'Don't ask for a GP letter for a cancelled holiday'

    Britons making an insurance claim for a holiday they have cancelled because of the coronavirus should not be required to provide a GP letter, doctors say.

    Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said insurance firms should instead be basing their decisions to offer refunds on advice from the Foreign Office and Public Health England.

    "Patients will undoubtedly have good and sensible reasons for not wanting to travel to certain places because of Covid-19," he said. "But this is not the same as being unable to travel due to existing illness, and it should not become the GP's responsibility to give patients advice about where not to travel."

    The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said insurers were assessing claims on a "case by case basis" and said it may need "medical evidence if someone puts in a cancellation claim, saying their pre-existing condition could be exacerbated by coronavirus".

    You can read our guide on your rights as a traveller here.

  16. UK sends health protection specialist to Tenerife

    Public Health England has sent a health protection specialist to Tenerife, where hundreds of guests have been locked down in a coronavirus-hit hotel.

    Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said the expert will "work with the Spanish authorities to better understand the public health measures that have been put in place in the hotel".

    "This includes understanding spread of the virus within the hotel and how the Spanish authorities are monitoring the situation," she added.

    It comes after some British guests claimed safety rules were not being enforced, or followed by other customers.

    Video content

    Video caption: Tenerife hotel guests say they are 'horrified' by conditions
  17. Three things we learnt from the WHO update

    We've been watching the World Health Organization press conference for updates on the response to the virus. Here are some interesting takeaways:

    • Latin America's tropical climate will not necessarily stop the virus spreading there. Brazil reported the continent's first case on Wednesday - but WHO officials highlighted the country's "strong" history of dealing with large-scale outbreaks like Zika
    • The WHO expects Iran to report more mild cases of the virus, as surveillance and detection methods improve. Currently Iran has a higher than average mortality rate for coronavirus patients of 14% (compared to global rate of 1-2%). WHO officials attribute this to Iran detecting just the "severe spectrum" of infections so far
    • China's successful containment of the virus suggests that measures can work. But the growth of cases in the rest of the world is "bad news". The cluster of infections in Italy was unexpected, the WHO chief said, warning other developed countries should "expect surprises"
  18. How Italian football is coping with the coronavirus

    Fans wear face masks to a football match in Italy

    Italy's beloved football is feeling the impact. Fans have been wearing masks to matches, and games are being cancelled or played behind closed doors, dealing an economic blow to some clubs.

    But other major sporting events around the world are also being affected. You can read all about what's happening with major events including the Olympics, F1 and Six Nations here.

  19. Italy fights back against 'epidemic of misinformation'

    Mark Lowen

    BBC Rome correspondent

    An empty tram is seen during rush hour in Milan, Italy, 27 February 2020.
    Image caption: Tram carriages were empty during rush hour in Milan on Thursday

    Italy’s government is in fightback mode, trying a concerted approach to lessen the coronavirus panic. The foreign minister warned that an “epidemic of misleading information” would damage Italy “more than the virus itself”, which, he added, had infected 0.1% of towns in the country. “It’s time to stop the panic”, said the prime minister, asking the national broadcaster Rai to “tone down”.

    On the front pages of Italian newspapers, the top story is no longer the rising number of cases – now more than 520, with 14 deaths – but appeals for calm. The mayor of Milan, where many hotels and restaurants are half-empty, has called for some museums to reopen. A new video released by the authorities shows vibrant scenes from the city with the message: we’re not afraid and we’re open for business.

    But this is a story driven by perceptions. And with Donald Trump mentioning possible future travel restrictions to Italy, with Israel barring foreigners arriving on flights from Italy, with Kuwait evacuating its nationals from Milan, the Italian government faces a challenge to change the narrative.

    View more on twitter