Coronavirus fears could see the Queen’s popular garden parties cancelled

Buckingham Palace is preparing to cancel the Queen's garden parties as a coronavirus precaution.

The events at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in May are expected to coincide with the peak of the outbreak and are set to be attended by 30,000 people.

Royal insiders told The Sunday Times measures to stop the spread of infections are being looked at amid fears for the health of the 93-year-old monarch.

Government medical experts have advised cancelling the gatherings may be necessary but the Queen is determined to keep calm and carry on, wearing gloves to carry out royal duties for the first time and attending a Commonwealth Day service alongside a congregation of 2,000 today.

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Earlier it was confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK had reached 273 , a record daily increase of 64 and for the first time greater than the rise in China where the outbreak started.

To date there have been two deaths – both elderly people with pre-existing health conditions.

The elderly and those with health problems are most at risk and the government has previously said Brits should visit older relatives now ahead of social distancing plans.

A Whitehall source said: “Given that the government is considering emergency legislation to ban mass gatherings, the garden parties are likely to be vulnerable to cancellation.

“Considering the age of the Queen, no one wants to take any risks with her health.”

There are also fears for William and Kate's trip to Australia , where there have been 80 cases confirmed and three deaths.

The Duke and Duchess were set to tour areas hit by devastating bush fires but no date had been confirmed and now Kensington Palace is reviewing the couples' travel plans as cases of Covid-19 shot above 100,000.

More than 270 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the Department of Health has said.

As of 9am on Sunday, 273 people had been diagnosed with Covid-19 – an increase of 67 from the 206 cases confirmed at 7am on Saturday.

It represents the largest day-on-day increase in diagnoses.

More than 23,500 people have been tested for the virus in the UK, with two patients with Covid-19 having died.

Two more cases have been confirmed in Scotland, bringing the total there to 18.

On Saturday night, three more people were diagnosed in Northern Ireland pushing its total to seven, while on Sunday morning it was announced confirmed cases in Wales had risen from two to four.

The latest figures were published as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a "national effort" is required to tackle the outbreak.

He hailed the "good example" set by a group of people released from hospital quarantine on Sunday, who had been repatriated to the UK last month from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

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