New data has revealed the number of positive coronavirus cases in Essex.

As of March 8, there were five confirmed cases in the county, according to Public Health England.

Across the UK, 280 people have been confirmed as positive for COVID-19, with 48 cases in London.

Three patients who tested positive have died.

In Redbridge, there has been one confirmed case and no new cases in Waltham Forest.

Barnet has so far seen four confirmed cases while there has been a single case recorded in Harrow, one in Hillingdon and one more in Enfield.

London’s worst affected borough is Kensington and Chelsea, with eight confirmed cases.

A further 13 cases were also confirmed in neighbouring county Hertfordshire.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is chairing an emergency Cobra meeting today to decide whether to bring in measures to delay the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

The meeting is expected to consider whether "social distancing" measures should be phased in.

These could include banning of big events, closing schools and encouraging home working.

Ministers are also meeting with sports bodies and UK supermarkets to discuss their response to the outbreak.

Several European countries are cancelling mass gatherings or limiting the number of people who can attend big events, however culture secretary said there are "no plans" for Britain to follow suit.

At the weekend, Italy imposed restrictions on around 16 million people for nearly a month in a bid to stop the spread of the disease there.

Italy now has the highest number of confirmed cases outside China at 7,375, and its death toll stands at 366.

France, where more than 1,100 cases have been recorded and 19 people have died, has announced a ban on events of more than 1,000 people.

Mr Dowden insisted the Government is following the advice of health officials and, while the situation is kept under review, there is currently "no need" to cancel big events or for people to avoid museums or other public places.

He told BBC Breakfast: "There's no reason for people either not to attend such events or to cancel them at this stage, but we keep it under review."

Asked about the possibility of galleries and museums closing, he said: "I think all of this is quite premature at this stage, we are not anywhere near that sort of stage.”

Last week, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told MPs the UK was mainly moving towards the delay phase of its strategy to tackle coronavirus, the point at which such "social distancing" measures may be phased in.