The UK government has implemented its strictest measures yet to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the televised announcement that members of the public will not be allowed outside except for certain reasons: travel to and from work, for medical requirements, shopping for essentials, and daily exercise. Gatherings of more than two or more people will also be prohibited.
All shops which sell non-essential goods will close, including clothing and electronic stores; all non-essential premises where people can gather will be closed, including playgrounds and libraries, and all ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms will be cancelled -excluding funerals.
The government will review the restrictions in three-weeks’ time.
The measures come after the Prime Minister suggested that the UK is two-weeks behind Italy in terms of the mortality rate of the virus.
Stricter measures have been implemented since last Friday, when the government closed most restaurants and cafes, but some, including opposition parties, felt the measures had not gone far enough, particularly as evidence of large gatherings in parks and public transport have emerged from over the weekend.
“The critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households”, the Prime Minister said.
The death toll in the UK now stands at 335, with 6,650 cases recorded, while worldwide the number of deaths is over 16,000, with the total cases over 375,000.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom summarised the acceleration of the virus, saying it took 67 days for the first 100,000 infected people to be identified, then 11 days for the next 100,000, and only 4 days to reach 300,000 cases.
What are the symptoms and what should you do if you have them?
The two main symptoms of the disease as outlined by the NHS are:
- a high temperature – where your chest or back feels hot to touch, regardless of having to measure with a thermometer.
- a new, continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
If you have one or both of these symptoms it is recommended you should stay at home for seven days if you live alone, but if you live with other people, you and they should self-isolate for fourteen days.
You should only travel in limited capacity when you know one in your household exhibits symptoms of the disease.
While the coronavirus is more deadly for those over 70 with pre-existing conditions, a prominent number of cases of younger fatalities, including the death of an 18-year-old in Britain in the past few days, has highlighted the danger the disease poses for everyone.
One of the biggest dangers scientific experts have identified is that of the potential for people to spread the disease, even if they do no show any symptoms. It is thought that a carrier of the virus can infect 2.5 other people over the course of five days which, taken over 30 days, could see an increase in up to 406 infections.
Hospitals are also facing increasing pressure to be able to be able to provide adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff, along with facing a shortage in ventilators which are crucial for supporting those with the most severe cases of the illness.
The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has responded on the BBC that millions of PPE is scheduled for delivery across the country, and the government is working with diverse manufactures to increase the supply of ventilators.
Cover Photo: Number 10, by No10-Coronavirus, available at Flickr