British PM’s grim coronavirus warning
Boris Johnson today warned "many more families" will lose loved ones to coronavirus as he moved the UK into the "delay" phase in a battle against the potentially deadly coronavirus.
The Government today told anyone with a mild cough or temperature to stay at home for seven days following a COBRA meeting - as the total number of UK cases hit 596, with 10 deaths.
Up to 10,000 people in the UK could have the virus at the moment and would't know it, experts have predicted.
The second stage of Boris' four-part battle plan, "delay" means Britain will now aim to slow down the spread of coronavirus and reduce the number of people being infected to delay the peak.
The PM has decided to keep schools open despite Ireland announcing it would shut theirs down until the end of March to try and stop the spread.
Boris described the outbreak as the "worst public health crisis in a generation", warning "it will spread further" as he revealed new measures to try and stop further cases of infection.
He told the nation this afternoon at another press conference: "Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
"We are not closing schools at this time. This could do more harm than good."
And in a direct appeal to the nation's elderly, he added: "The Government will do all we can to help your and your family".
Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said the measures would help to protect older and more vulnerable people - and the risk to the public was now "high".
However, the peak of the outbreak could still be another 3 months away, Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance added.
Schools in the UK will stay open for now but could shut in the future.
They should only close if they are told to. Experts think that grandparents would be forced to take care of children instead which would put them at risk.
Out of all the options, scientists think that shutting schools won't help delay the peak very much, so it's low on the list of measures that officials are looking at.
Schools will have to ditch all foreign trips, however.
Anyone over the age of 70 or who has a health condition such as diabetes, asthma, or a weak immune system, should not go on cruises.
In future the elderly could be asked to stay away from others, but Britain is not at that stage yet, Professor Whitty said today.
"While we will need to move to that stage, we do not think this is the right moment along the pandemic to do so," he said. "But that point will come."
Brits who look after older people are told to try their best to take care of them "to the best of your ability".
Those who fear infection should stay away from the elderly as much as possible.
Stay at home for seven days if you have a mild cold, cough or a fever of above 37 degrees.
If you have mild symptoms you don't need to get tested for the disease either.
Plan ahead and ask others for help so you can stay at home with everything you need.
Ask friends, family and your employer to get things you need.
Stay at least two metres away from other people in your home whenever possible, and sleep alone if you can.
"By seven days the great majority of people are not infectious and it is fine for them to go back into society," Professor Whitty said.
Scientists believe this could delay the peak of infection by 20-25 per cent.
In the future, Boris warned that Brits could be asked to stay at home if a family member has shown mild symptoms too - but that advice is not coming into play yet.
BANNING PUBLIC EVENTS
Boris said today they were "considering" banning major public events such as sports matches, but it's not on the cards right now.
The PM and experts have said they don't think it will help as much as other measures.
Cancelling big events could just force people into each other's homes and to the pub instead, they predicted.
In Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has said that public gatherings of more than 500 will be banned - but that is to release pressure on the emergency services rather than stop the spread.
Downing Street indicated today that Britain's advice would not be the same as other countries in Europe.
The PM's spokesperson said: "We believe that we are taking our decisions bases on the best scientific advice that is available.
"We follow our own advice. They (Ireland) will do the same."
Government sources stressed that the power to force schools to shut may be pushed through as part of emergency legislation which will be put to MPs next.
One said: "We can take the power to close them."
The spread of the virus is predicted to peak shortly over Easter with around 50 per cent of infections expected to come within a three-week period.
Testing will be escalated to around 10,000 people every day as the virus grips the nation.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission