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Boris Johnson introduces draconian measures as government declares UK now in 'war against invisible killer'


BORIS Johnson urged everyone in the UK to avoid "non-essential contact" with other people and to stop going to pubs, clubs and theaters to slow the spread of coronavirus, the British government insisting that the country was now "at war with an invisible killer".

The introduction of what the Prime Minister admitted to be "very draconian" measures came as the death toll in the UK increased by two to 55 as a result of the first death in Wales and One death in Scotland.

The Department of Health said the total number of people who tested positive for the virus in the UK had increased by 171 in one day to a total of 1,543. The latest cases include 30 more in Wales and 18 in Scotland.

The UK government's Scientific Advisory Panel for Emergencies or Sage has concluded that the country now appears to be approaching the fast-growing part of the upward curve of the infection. Without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days.

Mr Johnson said at a press conference in Downing St that:

* everyone should avoid mass gatherings and crowded places such as pubs, clubs and theaters:

* people should work from home if they could;

* from the weekend, those with the most serious health problems should be "largely protected from social contact for about 12 weeks";

* all "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in nursing homes should stop;

* if a person in a household has a persistent cough or fever, then everyone who lives there must stay at home for 14 days and

* Britain is now "three weeks" behind Italy, the epicenter of the epidemic in Europe.

The PM described the new measures as the "right package" for "crushing the sombrero" and helping to push the peak back to the summer to ease the pressure on the NHS.

Although schools are advised not to close for the time being, he clarified that things are being reviewed and that other measures could be introduced if necessary.

Johnson said advice to avoid unnecessary social contact is "particularly important for people over the age of 70, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions".

This is thought to mean that, in some cases, grandparents will not be able to visit their grandchildren and that the domestic Easter holiday business will be severely affected.

It is calculated that the protection of the most vulnerable people against contact for 12 weeks will apply to 1.4 million people.

Sir Patrick Valance, chief scientific adviser, described the epidemic as a very rapid situation. "The latest numbers we looked at at Sage suggest that we are entering or are about to enter a period of rapid growth. And London is ahead of other parts of the country. "

Asked whether the government's modeling was wrong, Sir Patrick said that the UK was not four weeks behind Italy, as previously suggested, but three. "We are on rapid acceleration," he insisted.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said coronavirus was now a "very global disease" and would accelerate the infection curve "very quickly".

He warned, "People should think about a minimum of weeks to several months, and depending on how it goes, it can be longer. It is important that people realize that they are long term. "

During the tests, Professor Whitty said he would be "stepped up" every week.

The Prime Minister admitted that the epidemic was going to be a "very big challenge for big and small businesses", but insisted that the government would go hand in hand with other governments around the world to give businesses the space to recover.

He acknowledged that the coronavirus would present a "potentially severe blow" to the economy, but insisted if the nation acted the right way, then it would be a "short-term problem" because the fundamentals of the economy. British economy were solid.

Asked about the importance of the London and Edinburgh governments in the lock-up phase to ensure a unified approach, the Prime Minister said that there were very good discussions between the four nations, saying: "Everyone is on the same wavelength; everyone can see the importance of the measures that we have described today. "

Given that London was ahead of the rest of the country in terms of transmission, Mr Johnson was in a hurry to know if Westminster could continue until July as planned and insisted that the government ensure that the ' democracy continues ”.

He hinted that there would be "more things to come" following talks between Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House, for "Achieve the goal" of protecting democracy.

In the House of Commons, Matt Hancock, the British Secretary of Health, made a statement to update MPs, saying that the government's new measures were unprecedented in peacetime.

"We are going to fight this virus with everything we have; we are at war with an invisible killer and we must do everything we can to stop it."

Emergency legislation to fight the virus will be released tomorrow and presented to Parliament on Thursday.

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