The Government is set to mobilise “wartime-style” efforts in the next five to 20 days, including plans to isolate the elderly for four months, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston reports. As part of the new measures to help limit the impact of coronavirus, all people in Britain aged over 70 will be instructed to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months. Other measures being planned included the forced requisitioning of hotels, private hospitals and other buildings as temporary hospitals.
Pubs, restaurants and bars could also be forced to close.
They form a series of proposals being prepared by Boris Johnson, health secertary Matt Hancock, chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, to safeguard the lives of Britons amid the coronavirus epidemic.
A source told the broadcaster: “Everything is aimed at making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed, to save lives and to prevent hideous choices having to be made.”
The four are also understood to be considering closing some schools in the UK.
But in order to minimise the effect on healthcare and emergency service workers, a skeleton staff would be kept on in order to provide necessary childcare.
The Prime Minister has been heavily criticised for his approach to coronavirus so far, with many experts arguing he has not gone far enough to stop the spread of the virus.
But a senior government source told the broadcaster this perception was wrong and explained that the Government is waiting for the optimal time to impose the restrictions, as they will cause such upheaval to everyday life.
Mr Johnson is also understood to fear older people could suffer from neglect as a result of forced isolation, so wants to delay the proposal until as late as possible.
Officials hope neighbours and friends will provide support to ensure no one is neglected.
Food stores, pharmacies and petrol stations will remain open.
He said people should only go outside to buy supplies, carry out light exercise or vote in the election.
The Prime Minister also urged people to work from home as he branded the virus France’s “biggest health crisis in a century”.
Soon after France ramped up their containment measures, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency and announced the country will go into a 15-day nationwide lockdown.
All shops except pharmacies and stores selling basic necessities will be forced to close.
He said the coronavirus crisis requires “extraordinary decisions” and revealed the armed forces will be used in the fight against COVID-19.
When announcing the lockdown, the prime minister said: “We must all be united in fighting to coronavirus.”
Published at Sun, 15 Mar 2020 00:01:00 +0000