Government to announce plans to curb spread of coronavirus
Following the first Cobra meeting under the current government, measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus are to be set out later today.
Ministers will be provided with the powers to prepare for a widespread outbreak under new legislation.
Proposals include closing schools, bringing doctors out of retirement to cope with the number of cases, and cancelling events across the country.
People are currently being advised to work from home and are asked to consider whether their journey is necessary.
The government have recently announced that one fifth of the workforce could be off sick during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
Matt Hancock, the current health secretary, has said that, unless advised by Public Health England, these measures will not be enforced, and large-scale events such as the London Marathon are set to go ahead as planned.
He said that: "There may be things that we have to do down the line that we may not want to, but we will need the powers to do that, hence proposing emergency legislation."
While ministers already have the power to limit transport and social gatherings, the economic impact of such decisions is being carefully considered.
The government are believed to be considering a “social-distancing” model which would prevent the spread until later this year.
A bill allowing the government to invoke additional powers to limit the spread of the virus will be voted on by the beginning of April.
Up to 30 hospitals in the UK may have coronavirus specific wards set up, and routine treatments are set to be cancelled across the country to prevent the spread.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that "We are well prepared for this global threat and, as the wider economic picture becomes clearer, we stand ready to announce further support where needed."
Boris Johnson believes that there could be a “significant expansion” of the virus in the UK, following the number of cases rising to 39 as of yesterday.