March 8, 2020 / 2:17 PM / 23 days ago

Number of UK coronavirus cases rises by 30% to 273, third person dies

FILE PHOTO: A man is seen wearing a protective face mask at Waterloo station in London, Britain, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose by 30% to 273, the government said on Sunday, and a third person who tested positive for the virus has died.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the number of cases had risen by 64 from Saturday, the biggest one-day increase so far. The largest concentration of cases is in London, which has had 51.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said a third person had died in Britain after testing positive for the virus. The patient was over 60 years old, had “significant underlying health conditions” and had recently travelled from an affected area.

Earlier finance minister Rishi Sunak said the government would invest whatever was needed to deal with the spread of the virus, including more money for the health service and help for companies suffering short-term cash flow problems.

After reports of people stockpiling goods such as hand sanitiser, soap, dried pasta and toilet rolls, the government said on Friday that supermarkets had contingency plans in place to prevent shortages.

Britain’s biggest supermarket, Tesco, said it was restricting bulk buying of several products in stores and online. Customers will be limited to buying five units of items such as anti-bacterial gels and wipes, dried pasta and long-life milk.

The government said the environment minister would hold a call with the chief executives of Britain’s main supermarkets and industry representatives on Monday to discuss their response to the coronavirus, in particular support for vulnerable groups in isolation. It follows a similar call on Friday.

The government also set out details of planned emergency legislation, including the possibility of holding more court proceedings via telephone or video link, and steps to protect the jobs of those who volunteer for the health service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee on Monday.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Daniel Wallis

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