• The coronavirus has claimed more than 200 lives in China and infected 10,000 others.
  • Medical officials said it was inevitable the virus would show up in UK.
  • The chance of the virus spreading in UK is minimal.

The United Kingdom has reported its first two cases of coronavirus, which has claimed more than 200 lives in China and infected 10,000 others.

Almost 100 other cases have been confirmed in 18 other countries.

The chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said the two infected patients came from the same family.

“The [National Health Service] is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread,” Whitty added. “We have been preparing for U.K. cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

The patients were staying in a hotel in Yorkshire, then transported overnight to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle which has experience in treating people with infectious diseases.

“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” Whitty said.

Whitty added that, in the unlikely event the virus spreads, there is "a high chance people would get better" and that "a lot of people will end up with a relatively minor disease.” The few who do become seriously ill will likely develop respiratory problems which "will be dealt with as anyone else with a respiratory disease," he said.

Medical officials did not provide any details on the patients’ identities, their national origins or their condition, citing patient confidentiality rules.

However, Britain’s Metro U.K. newspaper reported the two patients are Chinese nationals who traveled to the U.K. in recent days and had been staying at a hotel in Yorkshire.

Perhaps coincidentally, on Wednesday, a StayCity hotel in York was placed on lockdown after a Chinese citizen staying there became ill and taken to hospital. It is unclear if he was one the aforementioned confirmed cases.

Medical experts in Britain were not overly concerned by the two confirmed cases.

Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, said the chances of the virus spreading further was "minimal" because the patients were detected early.

The U.K. had been on high alert for a few weeks as more than 160 people tested for the virus but all turned out negative prior to Friday.

“The report of the first two cases diagnosed positive for [coronavirus] in the U.K. is not surprising and was almost inevitable,” said Professor Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia. “The NHS is well able to nurse people with this novel coronavirus as it has successfully and safely managed a number of cases of both [severe acute respiratory syndrome] and [Middle East respiratory syndrome] in the past. With the information available it is not possible to judge what risk if any there may be of spread within the community.”

Meanwhile, 83 Britons and 27 foreigners, mostly EU citizens, flew back to the U.K. from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. They landed at RAF Brize Norton in Charterton, Oxfordshire on Friday morning. The British passengers will be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral and quarantined there for two weeks.

"All services in the hospital are running as usual including emergency services, outpatients and planned surgery,” said Pat Hackett, leader of Wirral Council. “Staff working in the hospital will not be in contact with these U.K. citizens."

Whitty said they will be isolated from the general public, but not placed in "solitary confinement.”

"We intend them to be housed in a way which is pleasant," he added.

Whitty also said he hoped they will be released after 14 days without any symptoms, however those who do develop symptoms will be treated by the NHS "in a way that's safe for them and safe for staff and the public.”

Some 1,561 people are known to have entered the U.K. from Wuhan since January 10, including airline staff, although some have returned.