Sixth UK coronavirus death confirmed as cases jump to 373

A sixth patient has died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. (PA)

A sixth patient in the UK has died after contracting coronavirus, the Department of Health announced on Tuesday, as the total number of confirmed cases rose to 373.

54 new cases have been diagnosed since the same point on Monday, an increase of nearly 17%.

The sixth patient died on Monday night at Watford General Hospital in Hertforshire.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said the patient was in their eighties and had underlying health conditions.

The latest person to die from coronavirus in the UK was a patient at Watford General Hospital in Watford, Hertfordshire. (PA)

A statement from the trust said: “Sadly, we can confirm that a man who was being cared for at Watford General Hospital, and had tested positive for Covid-19, has died.

“The patient, who died in the evening of Monday March 9, was in his early 80s and had underlying health conditions.

“His family has been informed and our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time.”

Read more: Health chief warns coronavirus outbreak could last months and vaccine may never be found

Following the announcement of the death on Tuesday, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said: “I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected.

“It appears the virus was acquired in the UK and full contact tracing has begun.”

On Monday Professor Whitty, said Britons with cold, flu or fever symptoms could soon to be asked to stay at home in self-isolation.

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but for some people such as the elderly or those with underlying health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Professor Whitty said the balance would tip so that more and more people would suffer coronavirus rather than regular seasonal flu or other respiratory infections.

Dr Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a “balanced response”.

Speaking on Sky News, Dr Harries said “many thousands of people” would contract coronavirus as the disease continued to spread in the UK.

“Large numbers of the population will become infected because it’s a naive population – nobody has got antibodies to this virus currently,” she said.

“We will see many thousands of people infected by coronavirus, that’s what we’re seeing in other countries, and the important thing for us is to make sure that we manage those infections.”