Individuals suspected of being infected by the novel coronavirus might be forcefully quarantined in the coming days. The Department of Health has declared the virus outbreak as a "serious and imminent threat." This announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock allows the government to force individuals in the United Kingdom into quarantine. The call to increase the threat level has been taken after four more people were diagnosed with the viral infection, doubling the patient count to eight.

As more than 900 people have died and over 40,000 people have been infected by the virus, the Department of Health is taking measures to keep the virus in check in the UK. Three evacuation flights from Wuhan have brought hundreds of British citizens back to the UK. Most of the evacuees are in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside, Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes, and John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford. None of the evacuees has shown signs of the viral infection.

Those who have been diagnosed with the infection had travelled to Asia and returned to the UK on their own. The first two patients are reportedly Chinese nationals who fell ill in York, and are currently being treated at Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle. The third patient is suspected to have infected five other people.

The unnamed businessman reportedly contracted the virus in Singapore. From Singapore, he went on a ski break in France where he supposedly infected four other people. Upon returning to the UK, he fell ill and was diagnosed with the virus. A doctor who came in contact with the businessman in France was the fourth patient. Four individuals from Brighton have also been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus after coming in contact with the businessman in France.

A bar in Hove, The Grenadier, was a spot visited by the businessman after he arrived in the UK. While the workers at the bar are under self-quarantine, the patrons also run a risk of having been infected.

A source informed the Daily Mail that the threat to the public by the virus is still "moderate." The Department of Health decided to increase the risk level to allow the government to forcefully quarantine suspected patients for public safety.

Novel Coronavirus
The new coronavirus has claimed more lives than the SARS outbreak in 2002-03, according to official figures Photo: AFP / NOEL CELIS