Coronavirus latest: UK to set out nationwide plan as Johnson warns spread ‘looks likely’
The UK government has agreed a plan for dealing with the coronavirus during an emergency Cobra meeting this morning, as the number of cases in the UK is expected to rise throughout the next few weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to “go about business as usual” and that the country was “very, very well-prepared”. But he added it was “likely” that the disease would spread.
“We’ve agreed a plan so that if and when it starts to spread, as I’m afraid it looks likely it will, we are in a position to take the steps that will be necessary,” he said this morning.
The national response will relate to “all four parts of the UK”, his spokesman added. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those to take part in the Cobra meeting remotely.
“Will be working closely together to ensure we have best possible response to dealing with outbreak,” the spokesman added.
Legislation is also expected to be brought forward to deal with both the delay and mitigation phases.
Johnson said “the single most useful thing” people could do was wash their hands “two times to Happy Birthday with hot water”.
That advice was seconded by Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, as he arrived for the morning’s meeting.
“Wash your hands is the national anthem,” he said.
The Budget will go ahead as planned on March 11, despite the impact of the outbreak on the UK and global economy, a Downing Street spokesman said.
“The government stands ready to use all the levers at its disposal to ensure we are prepared as we can be,” he added, stressing the chancellor Rishi Sunak was on top of the “evolving situation”.
Sunak and the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, have held discussions and work is under way to prepare for any economic disruption.
Meanwhile, the EU has raised the coronavirus risk level in member states to “moderate to high”.
This morning Public Health England (PHE) said widespread transmission of coronavirus in the UK was now “highly likely”. There were 36 confirmed cases in the UK as of this morning.
Medical Director Paul Cosford told the BBC that the increase in cases in the UK and abroad meant the UK must be prepared for the disease to spread.
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