A patient diagnosed with coronavirus has become the first to catch it in the UK.
It is unclear whether this was “directly or indirectly” from someone who recently returned from abroad, England’s chief medical officer said.
It takes the total number of UK cases to 20.
The announcement comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from the virus after catching it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
He is the sixth passenger to die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, Japan’s health ministry said.
Confirming the latest UK case, Professor Chris Whitty said the patient, a resident of Surrey, in south-east England, has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
He said the case is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.
The Department of Health and Social Care said: “Given the recent increases in international case numbers, especially Europe, it is highly likely that we will soon see some instances of community transmission in the UK.”
Public Health England said it was working with Surrey County Council to contact people who had “close contact” with the Surrey coronavirus case.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is due to chair an emergency Cobra committee meeting on Monday, said preparing for an outbreak in the UK was now the government’s “top priority”.