British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will introduce sweeping plans to deal with the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, including a war-room-style public health campaign and possible calls to discourage unnecessary travel.
Johnson will also present a new parliamentary bill to ensure his government “has all the necessary powers to prepare for and tackle the coronavirus outbreak”.
His announcement comes as the number of cases in Britain has risen to 39, including four new patients, all of whom had travelled to Italy, site of the largest outbreak in Europe.
“It is highly likely coronavirus will spread more widely in the coming days and weeks, which is why we’re making every possible preparation,” Johnson said in the announcement.
Meanwhile, a man who had been working in Bristol has tested positive for the virus in Shenzhen, after flying from London to Hong Kong on Thursday, according to the Health Commission of Guangdong province.
The European Union, which Britain left a few weeks ago, increased the risk level on Monday as a result of the virus’ spread.
Under the proposals in preparation for a rise in infections, the British government will encourage more people to work from home and also discourage unnecessary travel as part of a “social distancing” strategy that could “delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year, potentially helping combat the virus in warmer weather conditions”.
The war room that will handle the public information campaign will be part of the Cabinet Office, bringing together communications experts and scientists from across government and the National Health Service.
“Coronavirus [will be] a standing item on the weekly cabinet agenda, with the PM continuing to oversee the government approach,” Johnson’s office said.
Also, retired health professionals will be hired through an “emergency registration”, while health care workers providing care or diagnostic services will be covered by an emergency indemnity coverage, the office said.
Every government department will have a designated “ministerial virus lead” to oversee the response to the contagion’s global threat, for instance regarding schools or businesses.
A shop window in London includes a Donald Trump mask with protective face covering. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Britain’s aviation industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the global public health crisis.
Flagship airline British Airways has cancelled hundreds of flights between March 6 and March 28. All of its flights to and from mainland China – where the coronavirus originated – have already been suspended.
Budget carrier Ryanair has also reduced the number of flights on some routes, in particular to and from Italy, by up to 25 per cent.
On Monday, Public Health England (PHE) said widespread transmission of coronavirus in Britain was “highly likely”, the BBC reported.
Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.
More from South China Morning Post:
- EU raises coronavirus risk level to ‘high’ as Italy death toll passes 50
- UK coronavirus battle plan could include ‘Dad’s Army’ of retired doctors and nurses
- Coronavirus: Iran council member close to supreme leader Khamenei dies of Covid-19
This article Coronavirus: Boris Johnson proposes steps to deal with outbreak as number of cases grows in Britain first appeared on South China Morning Post