Coronavirus UK threat: ‘Many thousands’ to be infected warns expert as lockdown fears soar

Coronavirus UK threat: ‘Many thousands’ to be infected warns expert as lockdown fears soar

Coronavirus has infected more than 114,00 worldwide as Italy has had the second-highest amount of deaths behind China. Up to 463 people died in the European country and 3,024 in mainland China. But the deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, warned “many thousands of people” could contract coronavirus in the UK. She explained the fatality rate is still likely to rise before falling.

Speaking to Sky News, Dr Harries said: “We could see thousands in due course.

“I would be surprised if we see thousands but we will start moving that way next week.”

She continued: “That’s what we’re seeing in other countries.

“The important thing for us is to make sure we manage those infections and make sure those individuals who are most affected get into hospital and get treatment.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus update: Expert warns more ‘undoubtedly’ infected in UK

Dr Harries went on to explain why the UK may not be put in lockdown like Italy.

She said: “More is not always better.

“If in this country we are slightly ahead of Italy, we would be hoping to manage that peak by potentially other interventions.

“That would not be first on our list because the science tells us that safe isolation at home and looking after the elderly are the most applicable in the UK.

“In Italy, the health system is actually very different. It’s more fragmented.”

Britons with “minor” cold, flu or fever symptoms could soon to be asked to stay at home in self-isolation in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, while new Government advice has warned against all but essential travel to Italy.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty pointed to tighter measures aimed at protecting the public, particularly the vulnerable and elderly, which could be implemented in the next 10 to 14 days.

It came as the Government tightened travel restrictions on coronavirus-stricken Italy following the announcement that Italian authorities were to extend quarantine measures to the whole country.


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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) amended its advice to warn against all but essential travel to the country on Monday evening, while the number of dead in Italy rose to 463.

During a Downing Street press conference on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the UK will almost certainly move to the delay phase of tackling coronavirus.

Prof Whitty said the balance would tip so that more and more people would suffer coronavirus rather than regular seasonal flu or other respiratory infections.

He added: “We are expecting the numbers to increase initially quite slowly but really quite fast after a while and we have to catch it before the upswing begins.

“We are now very close to the time, probably within the next 10 to 14 days, when the modelling would imply we should move to a situation where everybody with even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever should be self-isolating for a period of seven days.”

Published at Tue, 10 Mar 2020 07:49:00 +0000