- Brits with even the mildest coronavirus symptoms should stay at home for at least seven days, Boris Johnson has said.
- Johnson warned the country that COVID-19 was “the worst public health crisis for a generation.”
- “Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time,” he said.
- The UK’s chief scientific advisor said the true number of confirmed cases could be as many as 10,000.
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told British people with even mild symptoms of coronavirus to stay at home for at least seven days, warning that the virus “is the worst public health crisis for a generation.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Johnson confirmed that Britain had moved into the “delay” phase of its plan for combating the COVID-19 virus, with the number of confirmed cases growing on a daily basis.
“It’s clear that coronavirus 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 brought us valuable time,” Johnson said.
“But it’s now a global pandemic and the number of cases will rise sharply.
“This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu. Alas that is not right.
“Owing to the lack of immunity, this disease is more dangerous and it’s going to go further.
“Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”
Boris Johnson: Families will lose loved ones
"More families are going to lose loved ones before their time."
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 12, 2020
Johnson said that in the next few weeks the UK government could take more radical steps, including banning big public events like sporting fixtures and telling the entire families of people with coronavirus symptoms to stay at home.
However, the UK government does not plan to close schools, as it does not believe it would be effective in fighting the virus.
“There is no escaping the reality that these measures will cause severe disruption across our country for many months,” the prime minister at a press conference in Downing Street.
UK Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said that while the number of confirmed cases in the UK was 590 as of Thursday afternoon, the true number of cases was probably somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000.
Vallance said that the UK was “four weeks or so behind” European countries like Italy in terms of the trajectory of the virus, and said that their aim was to delay its peak until spring or early summer when the NHS will be better-equipped to deal with it.
However, he warned that the peak of the virus could be 10 to 14 weeks away in June.