PM to discuss COVD-19 plans to shield elderly

Author: Jo Carlowe

An emergency Cobra committee meeting will take place today to discuss plans to strengthen measure to tackle coronavirus.

On Sunday the death toll from COVID-19 reached 35. Public Health England figures state that as of March 15 (Sunday) 40,279 people have been tested in the UK, of which 38,907 were confirmed negative and 1,372 were confirmed as positive.

Globally, more people have now been infected with coronavirus than in China.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the steps taken over recent days in the fight against COVID-19.

In an Op-Ed in the Sunday Telegraph, he described the outbreak as the biggest public health emergency in a generation, stating it called for ‘dramatic action at home and abroad, of the kind not normally seen in peacetime’.

In describing action taken so far, Mr Hancock said: “We have acted to contain the spread of the virus…carried out some of the highest number of tests in Europe.”

He described how further steps included asking manufacturers to transform their production lines to make ventilators, and to prepare for measures to ‘shield’ older and medically vulnerable people from the virus.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today confirmed that over-70s will soon be expected to stay at home for an extended period (possibly for four months) to protect themselves. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that those being asked to stay at home would still be able to go for a walk outside.

The government is due to release social distancing advice for the elderly later today, although they will not yet be asked to self-isolate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold daily televised press conferences to update the public.

An emergency bill will be published this week, giving the Government temporary powers to include the right to forcibly quarantine people who have the virus but who refuse to self-isolate.

Last week, The British Medical Association urged ministers to implement a wide range of measures to safeguard doctors in the fight against COVID-19, stressing that any measures should include safeguards for retired doctors who the Government suggest could be asked to join the NHS for the battle against the virus.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the BMA would continue to monitor the situation closely and keep up its dialogue with governments and health bodies in all four nations.