BRITAIN could create “no-go zones” to stop the spread of coronavirus as Boris Johnson publishes his battle plan for the nation today.
It comes as the Health Secretary warned that the crisis has a serious chance of turning into a full blown pandemic in the UK, and more cases continue to pop up.
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Boris Johnson is set to tell nervous Brits the deadly coronavirus could change everybody’s lives
The PM could order schools to shut down, urge people to work from home or avoid travel – and even create no-go zones to contain the spread.
And the chances of it getting more widespread are serious, the Health Secretary admitted earlier.
Mr Hancock told Good Morning Britain today: “We do think that is a serious possibility.”
But he added: “We haven’t given up on containing it yet.
“There are some countries where the spread has slowed down and they have got a grip on it.
“It shows that measures can be effective if they are done right and follows the science.”
Last night he said the spread could take weeks to reach a peak, and ministers are hopeful of delaying the main outbreak for at least 30 days until the weather is warmer.
He revealed that police had the powers to force people to self-isolate if they had to.
The current number of UK cases stands at 39 this morning – and one person has died.
The PM will warm Brits that “all of lives will change” if the virus gets a firm grip on Britain.
Downing Street’s battle plan will put the nation on red alert for a string of restrictions in the event of mass infection.
His battle plan today is expected to reveal:
- Working from home advice for millions
- Schools could be shut and areas of the country could be closed off as no-go zones like in China
- Large scale events like concerts and sports matches could be cancelled
- Targeted advice will be given to vulnerable people to keep them safe
- Plans to call retired doctors and nurses back into the NHS
- Giving schools permission to have larger class sizes
- Emergency laws to tackle the outbreak – including allowing border officials to refuse entry to Britain of anyone accused of carrying the virus
But currently none of the above plans are being put into place.
Today’s battle plan aims to reassure the public that everything possible is being looked at to tackle the virus – and get the nation ready should the virus spread.
A worst case scenario would see 80 per cent of people infected, and four per cent needing hospital care.
The PM will enforce his four-stage battle plan and put Britain on red alert for a string of restrictions in the event of mass infection
Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock joined other ministers for an emergency Downing Street meeting
A man waits at a busy train station wearing a gas mask – as fears of coronavirus spread
Thousands of deaths could be on the cards, it is feared.
A senior government source said: “If we do end up in the scenario where this is a full epidemic, steps will have to be taken that mean life can’t carry on quite as it does now.
“And we will have to make some changes to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the public and delay the full onset of this virus.”
Yesterday the PM said it was “highly likely” the virus would spread more widely “in the coming days and weeks”.
He added: “We have agreed a plan… but we can all continue to do our bit to fight this virus — by washing our hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.”
A pupil at Churston Ferrers Grammar School in Torbay, Devon, became Britain’s first confirmed child case. It is believed they and a relative were infected on a visit to northern Italy.
However medics were baffled by another new case — a patient from Harlow, Essex, who had no contact with anyone from any hotspots.
It sparked fears the virus is spreading rampantly throughout the UK.
Prof Paul Cosford, from Public Health England, said most patients had links to countries where there was widespread infection.
But he added: “There is a small number now where it is much more difficult to find that link, and that’s leading us to think we may well see more widespread infection in the UK fairly soon.”
An NHS employee working at Kent’s Maidstone Studios, where Catchphrase, Blind Date and Take Me Out are filmed, was also diagnosed.
He was in an office rented by the North East London NHS Foundation Trust, where staff have now been told to work from hom
Part of the PM’s plan will involve a massive PR blitz telling the public to wash their hands regularly in an effort to limit the spread
A school close to Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate in Tetbury, Gloucs, fears an outbreak after eight staff had to self-isolate.
Brits will also be urged to work from home and avoid unnecessary journeys
One online supermarket has reported running out of stock because Brits are stockpiling items
British Airways has said it will cancel hundreds of flights – including long haul trips to the US – because of falling demand.
And it comes as British supermarkets are drawing up plans to feed the nation to help with panic buying associated with the virus too.
As part of the plans, supermarkets would work with suppliers to cut back on variety – focusing instead on their supplies of staple products.
Many Brits have started to panic buy household items to help them survive, should coronavirus close down their communities.