According to the report: “The businessman is at the centre of a web of cases stretching across the UK, France and Spain after he apparently contracted the virus during a trip to Singapore.

“Officials have desperately tried to stop further spread with a cross-border hunt for all the hundreds of people he may have had contact with.

“More than 900 people have died and 37,000 have become infected since the outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has been placed in lockdown to curb the spread.

“Last night, it emerged that health authorities have contacted 183 passengers and six crew on an Easyjet flight taken by the unnamed man, warning that they could be infected,” the report said.

“Hundreds have been tested for cononavirus in the town of Les Contamines-Montjoie, near Megeve in the French Alps

“Public Health England is under pressure to reveal where the so-called ‘super spreader’ had been and the full extent of the numbers under observation.

“The task has been made more difficult because the patient, from Hove in East Sussex, interrupted his return from Singapore to Britain by taking a four-day break in the French Alps.

“The middle-aged man contracted the virus during a conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Singapore organised by Servomex, a British gas analytics company, more than two weeks ago.

“He then travelled to a ski chalet in Les Contamines-Montjoie, near Megeve, from January 24 to 28. He returned to Britain on an Easyjet flight on January 28 but fell ill after arriving in Britain, and has been receiving treatment at St Thomas’ Hospital in London since last Thursday.

“Five Britons who shared the ski chalet with him were diagnosed over the weekend, and hundreds of residents of the picturesque town are now undergoing tests,” the report said.

“Environmental consultant Bob Saynor, 48, and his nine-year-old son have been named locally as being at the centre of the outbreak and are being treated in hospital

“In addition, a British father-of-two who stayed in the ski resort tested positive after returning to his home in Majorca.

“They are in hospital with three other Britons who were staying at the six-bedroom chalet.

Emergency service workers at a local school

“Mr Saynor’s two other children and four Britons from another family are being kept in isolation at French hospitals as a precaution. His wife Catriona, a doctor, is reportedly in the UK.”

Meanwhile, government ministers are said to be “reviving plans originally drawn up to cope with a No Deal Brexit to help tackle the impact of the coronavirus on businesses”.

“They are concerned that Chinese cities and factories could be locked down for months, creating a shortage of goods that UK firms rely on.

“Whitehall officials have been ordered to dust off crisis plans made to ensure the flow of vital supplies if Britain left the EU without a deal. It comes after concerns about companies running out of lifesaving equipment or parts for supply chains.

“The virus has forced businesses with Chinese operations to close factories. Those affected include iPhone maker Apple, car manufacturers Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan, airlines such as British Airways and drug giant Glaxosmithkline.

“Experts fear the virus’s impact could cost the world economy £217billion in the first quarter of 2020. Chancellor Sajid Javid has reportedly joined meetings of the Cobra emergency committee to discuss the crisis.”

On Saturday, China raised the death toll from its coronavirus outbreak to 811, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic.

“China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, described the virus – which has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, infecting more than 330 people – as ‘the enemy of mankind’,” the report added.

“Health experts believe the outbreak could have spread from bats to humans through the illegal traffic of pangolins – or scaly anteaters – which are prized in China for food and medicine.”

  • Passengers, including a baby, disembark from a charter flight carrying Brits evacuated from Wuhan, China after it arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire