Members of the public who show "even minor" signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever will soon be told to self-isolate in efforts to help contain the killer bug.
The UK government's chief medical adviser said the change in advice could happen within the next fortnight.
It comes after the UK lost its fifth victim to coronavirus on Monday – with more than 319 people now testing positive in the country.
The two latest patients – who were in hospital in Wolverhampton and Carshalton, south London – were in their 70s and had underlying health conditions.
The Foreign Office is now warning British residents against all but essential travel to Italy.
On Tuesday, Italian authorities also introduced a banned ban on public gatherings to the entire country.
And anyone who arrives from Italy from Tuesday will be told to self-isolate for 14 days.
Under a new approach, people will be asked to self-isolate for seven days after showing even mild symptoms, the UK's chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty said.
All intensive care patients will now be tested for the virus – as well as anyone in hospital with a respiratory infection.
In a joint press conference with Prof Whitty in Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also suggested the elderly and vulnerable could be asked to stay home in the near future, with further steps set out "in the days and weeks ahead".
He said that the more the peak of the spread could be delayed to summer, "the better the NHS will be able to manage".
The UK is currently in the first phase – "containment" – of the government's four-part plan.
Johnson said the government is preparing to move to the second phase – "delay" – which will seek to push back the peak of the epidemic to the summer, when there will be less pressure on the NHS.
A significant outbreak is on its way but the government and its advisers believe they can limit its impact by taking the right steps at the right time.
The first step is to get people with even relatively moderate flu-like symptoms to self-isolate. To date only those who have been to an affected country or who had had close contact with an infected person had been asked to do this.
This will be followed by further advice later this week that is likely to be focused on protecting the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
Meanwhile, universal credit claimants who have to self-isolate will not be sanctioned, a work and pensions minister has confirmed.
Sick pay rules if you have to self isolate
Statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating, instead of day four, the Prime Minister announced last week.
To qualify for sick pay, you must work for an employer, be sick for at least four days in a row and earn on average at least £118 per week (£6,136 per year).
Under emergency guidelines, anyone not eligible for sick pay can apply for universal credit or apply Employment and Support Allowance instead.
We've got a full guide on how your employer must safeguard you from coronavirus, here.
These are also your rights to time off in a childcare emergency.
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