Public Health England says it is tracing people who have been in contact.
Whitty says: “The NHS is extremely well prepared and used to managing infections, and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had to prevent further spread.”
“Basic hygiene such as washing our hands regularly and using tissues when we cough and sneeze can play an important role in minimising the spread of viruses like this,” he says.
Chris Whitty (above, left) says eight people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK out of 1,114 tests.
Matt Hancock says “the incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health”.
“We have a strategy that relies on four tactical aims. The first is to contain, the second is to delay, the third is to do the science and the research, and the fourth is to mitigate so that we can actually brace the NHS,” he says.
London Fashion Week opens.
The UK now has 20 cases, including the first person to catch the virus in Britain.
“We have agreed a plan so that if and when it starts to spread, as I’m afraid it looks likely it will, we are in a position to take the steps necessary to contain the spread of the disease as far as we can and to protect the most vulnerable,” the prime minister says.
Nicola Sturgeon says: “We’re expecting perhaps 50% or as much as 80% of the population would be infected during that epidemic.”
51 people in the UK have now tested positive out of 13,911 tested.
Johnson says “I shook hands with everybody” during a visit to a hospital.
“We probably do have some onward transmission here in the UK. Now we are on the borderline between containing and delaying. At this point in time we think it is likely, not definite, that we will move into onward transmission and an epidemic here in the UK.”
206 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK. More than 21,000 people have been tested for the virus.
The PM says the best advice is to wash your hands, and says the UK is still in the contain stage but is preparing to move to the delay stage.
Asked why the UK wasn’t taking more draconian steps, he said: “We mustn’t do things with no or limited benefits.”
Public Health England says the NHS will be brought in to help on testing, doubling daily testing capacity from 2,000 to 4,000.
Johnson calls it “the worst public health crisis for a generation” and says “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”. But Whitty says social distancing measures will not be introduced yet. Those with mild symptoms are told to stay at home for seven days. Scotland bans gatherings of more than 500 people, but England does not. Schools remain open.
The Cheltenham horse racing festival concludes. More than 250,000 people attended.
Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance suggests in an interview with the BBC that the UK’s goal is to achieve “herd immunity”.
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“If you suppress something very, very hard, when you release those measures it bounces back, and it bounces back at the wrong time. Our aim is to try to reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely; also, because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission, at the same time we protect those who are most vulnerable to it.”
But that evening, Downing Street says mass gatherings will be banned the following week, in a U-turn on the previous day’s statements.
Hours later, a report by Imperial College reveals the UK only realised “in the last few days” that attempts to “mitigate” the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would not work, and that it needed to shift to a strategy to “suppress” the outbreak.
The WHO says its key message is “test, test, test”. Overall only 44,105 people have been tested in the UK, but Whitty insists the government is “scaling up” testing.
In the evening, Boris Johnson holds the first of Downing Street’s daily press conferences and unveils tougher advice, telling Britons to avoid all unnecessary contact and travel, and to stay away from pubs and theatres.
If one person in a household shows systems, there should be 14 days of self-isolation for the rest of the household. Those who can work from home should.
The government announces all schools across the UK will close indefinitely from Friday, March 20.
The UK death toll rises to 104.
Boris Johnson tells Parliament the government will ramp up testing to 25,000 tests a day.
Boris Johnson announces a UK-wide lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for one of four reasons: for work, essential shopping, medical reasons, or exercise.
“We are going up from 5,000 to 10,000 tests per day, to 25,000, hopefully very soon up to 250,000 per day,” he says.
Public Health England’s Sharon Peacock says the UK could roll out a mass antibody test within days. But Whitty rejects this: “I do not think, and I want to be clear, that this is something that we’ll suddenly be ordering on the internet next week.”
Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries rejects the WHO’s advice to “test, test, test”, suggesting it is aimed at less economically developed countries and is “not appropriate” for the UK at this stage of the outbreak.
A report published by Google using data from products like Google Maps shows mobility is significantly down: -85% in retail locations, -46% for places like grocery markets and pharmacies, -52% for parks, -75% for transit stations, and -55% for workplaces, while Britons spend more time at home.
It emerges just 2,000 NHS staff have been tested.
Matt Hancock sets a target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.
He admits the UK has been unable to match the level of testing in countries such as Germany because of its smaller diagnostics industry and a shortage of swabs and chemicals.
Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital. In a televised address to the nation, Queen Elizabeth calls for “self-discipline and resolve” to defeat the coronavirus.
Germany’s army donates 60 ventilators to the UK.
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