PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has announced new measures for Britain’s response to the coronavirus outbreak calling for “everyone” to avoid non-essential social contact or travel.
Revealing the new guidelines today, following a Cobra meeting held this afternoon, Mr Johnson explained: “Last week we asked everyone to stay at home if you had one of two key symptoms, a high temperature or a new and continuous cough.
“Today we need to go further because according to SAGE, the scientific advisory committee on emergencies, it looks as though we are approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve [of COVID-19] and without drastic action cases could double every five or six days.
“So first we need to ask you to ensure that if you or anyone in your house has one of those two symptoms then you should stay at home for 14 days.”
He added: “Even if you don’t have symptoms and no one in your household has symptoms, there is more that we need you to do now - now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others, to stop all unnecessary travel.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can and you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”
The increased restriction on daily life marks the Government's bid to delay the peak of the virus hitting in Britain and came with a warning that later this week the most vulnerable people in the country will be asked to stay at home for three months to avoid falling victim to the potentially fatal virus when it is expected to be at its highest infection rate.
“In a few days’ time, by this coming weekend, it will be necessary to go further and ensure that those with the most serous health conditions are shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks,” Mr Johnson confirmed.
However the Prime Minister stopped short of closing schools and has yet to ban mass gatherings – although he did advise against them and warned that the country could no longer spare the emergency services needed to support them.
“It remains true that the risks of transmission of the disease at mass gathering are relatively low,” he explained, “but as we advise against unnecessary social contact of all kinds it is right that we should extend that advice to mass gatherings as well.
“We have also got to ensure that we have the critical workers we need that might otherwise be deployed at those gatherings
“So, from tomorrow we will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with the emergency service workers that we normally do. Mass gatherings we are now emphatically moving further away from.”
The announcement came on a day where the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain jumped to 1543, including 53 deaths.