Coronavirus is continuing to spread around the globe, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising countries to be prepared for more cases. Now Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined the UK’s plan to “contain, delay, research, mitigate”.
There are 40 declared cases of coronavirus in the UK, with the biggest jump so far on Sunday as 13 cases were diagnosed.
Now eyes are on the Government for the next steps as many fear coronavirus is reaching pandemic stage.
Speaking at Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: “Let me be absolutely clear that for the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover as we have already seen.
“But I fully understand public concern, your concern, about the global spread of the virus and it is highly likely that we will see a growing number of UK cases and that’s why keeping the country safe is the Government’s overriding priority, and our plan means we are committed to doing everything possible, based on the advice of our world-leading scientific experts, to prepare for all eventualities.”
The four phases of the UK’s coronavirus plan
This phase aims to “detect and isolate” early cases and trace people who have been in contact with those infected.
At this point, the focus is to prevent the virus from spreading widely across the country.
Details in this phase include isolation measures; how Britain has “strategic stockpiles” of the most important medicines and protective equipment; and the advice that has been given to various aspects of society such as employers, schools and the care sector.
The document states that the Department for Education is setting up a helpline to manage increasing queries about coronavirus and schools.
The Government will aim to “slow the spread” of the virus, reducing the impact and “pushing it away from the winter season”.
The document states if possible they want to delay the peak of the virus until the summer months when it will be warmer.
This is to hopefully: “reduce significantly the risk of overlapping with seasonal flu and other challenges that the colder months bring”.
Officials are also exploring the most effective ways to slow the spread of the virus.
They say the public can help delay the “peak of the infection” with simple measures including adhering to the “catch it, bin it, kill it” strategy for sneezing and coughing, and hand-washing.
The “next steps” for the delay phase are the possibility of “population distancing strategies” like closing schools, pushing for more home working, and reducing large-scale gatherings.
Research is ongoing into the virus, with no known cure or vaccination as yet.
Experts are constantly monitoring and researching the virus with the aim of reducing its impact.
Research takes various forms including looking into new diagnostic tests, drugs to treat COVID-19, preventative vaccines, and coming up with the best course of care for people affected.
If the outbreak worsens, or it becomes a severe, prolonged pandemic, the response will escalate.
This means the focus will shift from “contain” and “delay” to “mitigate”.
The mitigation phase will see care provided for those who are ill, support put in place for hospitals and support for those who are infected but do not need to attend hospital.
The Government also details plans to decrease the impact of disease on society as a whole, public services and the economy.
The document explains how the health and social care systems have “plans in place” to ensure people receive essential care and support but “sometimes this might mean that other services are reduced temporarily”.
The “next steps” in the mitigate phase could include emergency services focusing on “critical functions” – for instance, this could mean police concentrating on responding to serious offences and maintaining public order if the number of officers dwindles.
In hospitals, non-urgent cases could be delayed and staff leavers and retirees could be called back to duty.
Published at Tue, 03 Mar 2020 11:15:00 +0000