Scotland’s chief medical officer has said a positive case of coronavirus in the country is “highly likely” in the coming days.
As of Thursday, a total of 161 people across the UK have been tested for the deadly flu-like virus – with all results coming back negative, including 16 patients in Scotland.
Chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said: “It is highly likely we’ll have a positive case of coronavirus in Scotland in the coming days.
“The public can be assured that Scotland has well-established plans and is well prepared for these types of outbreak.
“We have a proven track record of dealing with challenging health issues and have established public health and infectious disease experts working round the clock.
“We have also activated our emergency resilience operation.”
All tests are currently being carried out a single UK facility, although it is expected this will soon be rolled out to sites in Scotland.
Wuhan in China is the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s death toll reached 170 on Thursday with 7711 confirmed cases worldwide.
The new case of the virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak.
There are currently no confirmed cases of UK citizens abroad, however the World Health Organisation’s emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan, said the few cases of human-to-human spread of the virus outside China — in Japan, Germany, Canada and Vietnam — were of “great concern”.
The Chinese government has offered no estimates as to when it might contain the outbreak, although some specialists have speculated the spread of the disease will reach its peak in around two weeks.
A committee of experts will reconvene on Thursday to assess whether the outbreak should be declared a global emergency.
The UK Government said it was “monitoring the situation closely” and will continue to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and international community.
As well as advanced monitoring at airports with direct flights from China, China has also introduced port-of-exit screening to stop those exhibiting symptoms from leaving the country.
British Airways has grounded flights serving mainland China until at least the end of next month due to the Government’s coronavirus travel advice, however Virgin Atlantic will operate its flights between Heathrow and Shanghai as normal, saying it will “continue to monitor the situation”.
Meanwhile, the UK Government has confirmed plans to fly out around 200 British citizens who have been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are pleased to have confirmation from the Chinese authorities that the evacuation flight from Wuhan airport to the UK can depart at 5am local time on Friday.
“The safety and security of British nationals is our top priority. Our embassy in Beijing and consular teams remain in close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the latest information they need.”
There are no direct flights from China to Scotland.
Anyone returning from Wuhan is expected to be put in quarantine for 14 days, possibly at a military base, the UK’s department of health said.