Coronavirus has now been declared a "notifiable disease" by the government in a boost for worried firms.
The official designation will help companies to be able to get compensation through their insurance policies if the spread of the virus leads to cancellations or loss of business.
Under the terms of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 there are 32 diseases that are currently notifiable, ranging from Malaria and measles, to the plague and Sars.
It brings England in line with Northern Ireland and Scotland who added the virus to its list of notifiable diseases last month.
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: “We want to ensure any steps taken to protect the public during the COVID-19 outbreak are proportionate and do not come at an unnecessary social or economic cost.
“To mitigate the impact on businesses, we will register COVID19 as a notifiable disease.
"This will help companies seek compensation through their insurance policies in the event of any cancellations they may have to make as a result of the spread of the virus.”
It comes after Public Health England's chief medical officer warned the UK will probably see "some deaths" from coronavirus and a rapid rise in infections in the next six weeks.
Professor Chris Whitty revealed health officials are bracing for the outbreak to get much worse in Britain, where at least 53 people have tested positive for the flu-like illness.
Two new cases were confirmed in Scotland on Wednesday morning.
Prof Whitty had earlier warned that up to 80% of Britons would catch the bug in the Government's worst case scenario, and one per cent of those may die.
The NHS has declared a level four emergency over coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, and the UK's action plan warned that a fifth of workers could be absent at the height of the outbreak.
Professor Whitty said community transmission of coronavirus is likely to be happening already.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's when it's going from person to person to person and then we pick it up – that's what we mean by community transmission.
"It is likely that will be happening, if not now, but soon. I think it's likely to be happening at the moment, not definite."
Prof Whitty told ITV's Good Morning Britain: “I think it is much more likely than not that we are going to deal with a significant epidemic.
"How big it is, I think is currently still pretty uncertain.
“But that there will be an epidemic I think is now highly likely.”
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