UK now has 51 confirmed cases of coronavirus: health minister

Britain's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain has risen to 51, health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday, up from 39 the previous day.

Earlier, the government unveiled its “battle plan” to tackle the spread of coronavirus, warning that as many as a fifth of employees could be off work at the peak of the outbreak.

“As of 9.00 a.m. today there were 51 confirmed cases in the UK and it is becoming more likely we will see widespread transmission here in this country,” Hancock told parliament.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper