The UK is now in the second step – the delay phase – of the Government’s four point plan against coronavirus. On Thursday afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the step up to the delay phase in a televised address from inside Downing Street.
The number of cases of coronavirus in the UK reached 596 on Thursday, up by more than 100 in the past 24 hours.
Deaths in the UK have climbed to 10, all elderly patients who had underlying health conditions.
NHS England revealed the latest deaths were an 89-year-old at Charing Cross Hospital in London and a woman in her 60s at Queen’s Hospital in Romford.
Mr Johnson led an emergency meeting this lunchtime, with other ministers and the nation’s top scientific experts.
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But what did the Prime Minister announce on the delay phase? What does it mean?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened his speech by saying: “It’s clear that coronavirus Covid-19 continues and will continue to spread across the world and our country over the next few months.
“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.”
He said: ”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.”
He added the aim of the Government’s plan was to push back the peak of the virus to maximise the effect of the NHS.
Mr Johnson said they aimed to protect the elderly and those most vulnerable.
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The Government are advising against international school trips, and those who have any symptoms of coronavirus should remain at home for at least seven days.
Mr Johnson also said: “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.”
Currently, schools were not being told to close however Mr Johnson said the advice may change as coronavirus spreads.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the measures the Government are implementing will cause severe disruption for many months.
Mr Johnson said families would continue to “lose loved ones before their time” as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.
“We’ve all got to be clear, this is the worst public health crisis for a generation,” said the PM.
“Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right.
“Due to the lack of immunity this disease is more dangerous.
“It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”
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