A man wearing a facemask in Dublin Airport

Health chiefs have urged people aged over 60 to avoid crowds amid wide-spread coronavirus panic.

The World Health Organisation issued the drastic warning which also urged people in this age group to skip routine appointments at doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.

Mail Online reports: “It comes as a worker at an infant school in Berkshire was one of three further patients from England who tested positive for coronavirus yesterday bringing the total number of UK cases to 23.

“Parents were sent an email advising them that Willow Bank Infant School will be ‘shut for some days to allow for a deep clean’ as it is revealed more than 10,000 Britons have now been tested for the deadly virus.

“The other two cases – one in the Cotswolds, specifically Gloucestershire and another in Hertfordshire – are being investigated and any individuals who had contact with the patients are now being traced.

“The Cotswolds resident became infected in Italy, where more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed.

“Public Health England would not clarify, however, which of the Berkshire and the Hertfordshire cases had returned from Italy and which had returned from Asia.”

Debra Lapthorne, centre director for Public Health England South West, said: “‘Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with one of the latest confirmed cases of Covid-19.

“The letter to parents of pupils at the Berkshire infant school read: ‘We regret to inform you that we were told today that one of our members of staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID- 19,” the report said.

People wearing face masks in Trafalgar Square, London, as the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales

“We understand that this will worry many of you, and can reassure you that we have taken advice from Public Health England, who have released the attached statements.

“We have also attached some FAQs which will hopefully answer some of the questions you may have.

“We apologise that it has taken some time to officially inform you, however we have first had to perform the necessary checks and procedures that follow such an incident, which has taken most of today.

“Please can we ask that you remain calm and follow the recommended hygiene procedures.

“The school will be shut for some days to allow for a deep clean and to ensure that the risks of infection remain low.

“We will be in contact to ensure that you are kept updated.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Republic also confirmed its first case yesterday as a man was diagnosed with coronavirus after travelling to Italy.

“Health authorities are now trying to establish what contacts the patient had in Ireland since travelling from one of the areas badly affected by the outbreak.

“Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the patient was receiving medical care.

“Just 48 hours ago, the first case in Northern Ireland was made public.

“It comes as the British Government prepares to bring in new emergency powers to help stop the virus spreading after ten cases were reported in just three days – and 1,000 were tested in the last 24 hours alone.

Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at the Dongdaegu train station in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Kim Hyun-tai/Yonhap via AP)

“The emergency powers will give schools, councils and other parts of the public sector the ability to suspend laws – including health and safety measures – to cope with a pandemic.

“Elsewhere, fears are growing about an explosion of cases in Surrey after an unknown coronavirus spreader gave the deadly illness to the UK’s 20th victim – the first Briton to catch it having not travelled abroad.

“The victim, announced on Friday night, is understood to be a man who was treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London.

“Matt Hancock says coronavirus ‘overreactions can cause problems.”

“While infection is far more likely to cause severe illness in the elderly, WHO advice also applies to people of all ages who have serious health conditions,” the report added.

WHO’s Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told his half a million Twitter followers yesterday: “If you are 60+, or have an underlying condition like cardiovascular disease, a respiratory condition or diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing severe #COVID19.”

“Emerging clusters in Italy and in Iran, which has had 43 deaths and 593 cases confirmed, have led to infections of people in other countries.

“Iran has the highest death toll outside China, and health officials urged people not to attend funerals, as mass gatherings could help spread the virus.

“Earlier on Saturday, Bahrain threatened to prosecute travellers who came from Iran and had not been tested. The island nation has been hard-hit and shut down flights to halt the spread, and all its cases link back to Iran.

“The US is banning travel to Iran and elevating travel warnings to regions of Italy and South Korea.

“Vice president Mike Pence announced the new restrictions and warnings as President Donald Trump said 22 people in the US have been infected by the coronavirus and that additional cases are ‘likely.”