Boris Johnson set out his “battle plan” for a potential COVID-19 epidemic yesterday, which suggested people could be asked to suspend their social lives if the virus continues to spread. Should this happen then people will be urged to avoid “contact outside work and school”. Sources said the significant cut back on activities like eating out, going to the pub, concerts, shows and shopping could help slow the spread of further contagion.
The potential suspension of everyday life comes as the NHS claimed the coronavirus outbreak is the highest-level of emergency.
Last night, it the declared the virus threat as a “Level Four” incident.
The Prime Minister said at a Number 10 press conference yesterday that “all reasonable and necessary steps” were being taken.
He reiterated that the virus would produce only a mild disease for the majority of people infected.
Officials are now preparing themselves for a surge in future cases of coronavirus coming in weeks.
The Government’s plan said a fifth of Britain’s workforce could be off sick at the peak of the outbreak.
Ministers claimed they were hoping to delay the peak until late in the spring.
The NHS published figures yesterday that the number of cases of Coronavirus in the UK rose from 39 to 51.
A member of staff at Deloitte was one of the latest people to contract the virus.
The staff member at the accountancy firm tested positive for the virus after returning from a trip to Asia.
The Big Four company’s office in Holborn, London, is undergoing deep cleaning for contamination fears.
The patient is now in hospital and while part of the office is closed to staff, they will be allowed to work from home if they wish.
A Deloitte spokesperson said: “One of the floors in our offices has recently been impacted, with a member of staff being confirmed with Covid-19 after returning from a personal trip to Asia.
“The member of staff is now in hospital and receiving good care.”
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08.30am update: Government announces compensation for businesses hit by virus
The Government claimed it will formally register COVID-19 as “notifiable” diseases.
This will allow businesses to seek compensation if they are affected by coronavirus.
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesman told the BBC: “To mitigate the impact on businesses, we will register Covid-19 as a notifiable disease. This will help companies seek compensation through their insurance policies in the event of any cancellations they may have to make as a result of the spread of the virus.”
The decision follows the Scottish government, which added the virus to its list of notifiable diseases last month.
Outgoing Bank of England governor Mark Carney said yesterday small firms could get an injection of funds to help assist in battling the virus effects.
08.15am update: Scotland confirms two new cases of Coronavirus
Scotlands Health Secretary Jeane Freeman annpinced two more cases of the virus.
This takes the total number of coronavirus patients in Scotland to three.
The Scottish Government set out it’s strategy to combat the virus this week as part of a “four nations” action plan.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said “well-established” plans were being activated to tackle a “serious situation”.
She added: “I know people are hearing scary figures and it is important to stress that they are worst case scenarios.”
08.00am update: Iran releases 54,000 prisoners to stop coronavirus spread
In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons, Iran has temporarily released 54,000 prisoners.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili revealed inmates who tested negative for coronavirus were allowed out of prison.
“Security prtisoners” who have a sentence longer than fove years will not be let out.
According to a British MP jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be r”eleased on furlough today or tomorrow”.
Her husband said on Saturday he was concerned she had contracted Covid-19 at Tehran’s Evin prison.
He added authorities were refusing to test her for the disease.
As coronavirus sweeps through Iran, a number of senior Iranian officials also contracted the virus.
One of the latest cases is Pirhossein Kolivand, head of the emergency medical services.
Of Iran’s 290 members of parliament, 23 have also tested positive.
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