Two patients in England have been tested positive for the Wuhan novel Coronavirus, the chief medical officer said today.

They are the first patients to have been confirmed with the virus in this country since the outbreak began in China in December 2019.

Both are from the same family and are receiving “specialist NHS care” with the health service using “tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” CMO Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care declined to say where the patients were being treated, the Press Association reported they are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle.

There are four principle treatment centres for airborne high consequence infectious diseases in England, run by six trusts.

Two are in London, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust – which provides adult and paediatric services – and at Royal Free London, with a paediatric service provided by Imperial College healthcare Foundation Trust.

A site in the north west is run by Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust and Alder Hey Children’s FT in the north west, and another in the north east is run by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals FT.

The World Health Organisation yesterday said there have been 7,818 confirmed cases globally – 7,736 of them recorded in China where there have been a reported 170 deaths.

The virus had spread to 18 other countries, according to a tally published before British authorities reported its first two cases. The outbreak now meets the conditions of a “public health emergency of international concern” the global body confirmed yesterday.

UPDATE 10.52: This story has been updated to include reports by the Press Association about where the patients are being treated.