The Government has announced that the UK are moving out of the contain phase and into delay, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
There have been 596 confirmed cases across the country, but health officials have said they believe the actual number of people infected could be between 5,000 and 10,000.
The UK Chief Medical Officer has now raised the risk to the UK from moderate to high. As per the current advice, the most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in a bin and wash your hands.
‘It’s clear that coronavirus Covid-19 continues and will continue to spread across the world and our country over the next few months,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a speech announcing the measures.
‘We’ve done what can be done to contain this disease, and this has bought us valuable time, but it’s now a global pandemic. The number of cases will rise sharply, indeed the true number of cases is higher – perhaps much higher – than the number of cases we have so far confirmed with tests.’
In the coming weeks, the Government will be introducing further social distancing measures for older and vulnerable people, asking them to self-isolate regardless of symptoms. According to the Government, if the next stage is introduced too early in, the measures will not protect the public at the time of greatest risk but could have a huge impact.
‘We are now getting onto the next phase. This is now not just an attempt to contain the disease as far as possible but to delay its spread,’ Mr Johnson added.‘We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures. The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread - but it does place a burden on other public services.’
‘We will do the right thing at the right time,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. ‘I know how worrying this is. I know that people have deep concerns. I know that everyone will play their part in this national effort to defeat the virus. The best way to beat it is for us to work together. We will do whatever it takes. We will give the NHS whatever it needs and we will do all that we can to keep people safe and get through this together, as a Parliament and a nation.’