The chief medical officer has said the government is planning to advise anyone with a minor respiratory tract infection or fever to self-isolate for seven days to delay the spread of coronavirus.
In a press conference with the Prime Minister and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Professor Chris Whitty said the advice will come into force in the “near future”.
He said that in the next 10 to 14 days the government will have to advise everybody who has a minor respiratory tract infection or fever to self-isolate for seven days, in order to delay the epidemic.
The NHS is currently screening everyone in intensive care for coronavirus if they have symptoms, but Whitty said the government will extend this from tomorrow to include everyone who has significant pneumonia or respiratory tract infection.
Johnson said the UK remains in the containment phase of the government’s plan but is making “extensive preparations” to move to the delay phase. He reiterated that the best thing people can do is wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Vallance said there are currently no plans in place to ban large gatherings, as other European countries have done as their coronavirus cases rise. He said: “One person in a 70,000 seater stadium isn’t going to infect the stadium.”
The PM added it is “absolutely critical in managing the spread of the virus that we make the right decisions at the right time.”
Yesterday, France said it was banning all gatherings over 1,000 people in a bid to delay the spread of infection.
Following reports that consumers were rushing to stockpile as the number of coronavirus cases rose above 300, Johnson said the government would do everything it could “to keep supermarkets stocked and support the economy”, adding that he is confident in the UK’s supply chains.
Earlier today the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that a fifth patient had died from coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 319.