Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out the UK governments action plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
The new plan has set out how Ministers will take ‘every reasonable step to confront the virus’ in line with the best scientific advice and evidence that is currently available.
Earlier on in the week, the Prime Minister brought together the Government’s emergency COBR committee on the coronavirus outbreak, where attendees discussed, finalised and signed off the ‘battle plan’.
New measures already set out as part of the battle plan include:
- Every government department has a designated Ministerial virus lead to oversee the response to the global threat of the infection, for instance on schools or businesses
- A war room set up in the Cabinet Office, bringing together communications experts and scientists from across government and the NHS to roll out the public information campaign.
- The option, should the virus spread, to encourage more home working and discourage unnecessary travel as part of a ‘social distancing’ strategy that could delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year, potentially helping combat the virus in warmer weather conditions.
- Looking at emergency registration of health professionals who have retired, the introduction of emergency indemnity coverage for health care workers to provide care or diagnostic services and relaxation of rules around staff to pupil ratios in education and childcare settings.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“It is highly likely coronavirus will spread more widely in the coming days and weeks, which is why we’re making every possible preparation.
“We have agreed a plan, which I will set out in detail today, so if the virus should spread, we are ready to take necessary steps to contain it and protect the most vulnerable.
“But we can all continue to do our bit to fight this virus – by washing our hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice”.
The government has also said that up to a fifth of the workforce could be off sick during the peak phase of a coronavirus epidemic in the UK.
The police could end up only responding to ‘serious’ 999 calls in its bid to maintain public order if the virus spreads.
The armed forces could also be called upon to support the emergency services should the need arise.
This could include the military assisting with static security needs and security at both planned and impromptu events.
Other measures could also include closing schools, scaling back the number of large public gatherings for events such as concerts and football matches, and encouraging more people to work from home.
Twitter has already announced that, wherever possible, staff will be encouraged to work from home.
Some non-urgent hospital care and treatment might also have to be delayed so that more resources can be put into treating patients who contract coronavirus.
This could mean that the elderly (individuals aged 80+) and patients with underlying medical conditions would be given priority treatment should they contract coronavirus.
This is because, based on the current understanding of the virus, those aged over 80 years of age and people with underlying medical conditions, particularly those conditions which affect the immune system, are at higher risk from the disease.
While the majority of patients will have a mild to moderate sickness, similar to seasonal flu, a minority will require hospital care and a small proportion (around 2-3% of people who contract the disease) could die, the plans warn.
Globally, it is estimated that around 92,000 people have been infected with the disease. About 48,000 people have made a full recovery, and it is estimated that there have been approximately 3,200 deaths.
These figures roughly translate to a mortality rate of between 2-3% with many of the deaths being attributed to underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems.
Young children can become infected and “suffer severe illness”, but overall the illness is less common in the under-20s.
While there has been no advice given to people travelling out of the UK on business and pleasure, the government’s top health professionals have urged travellers who are going to countries with less advanced health care infrastructure to re-consider their travel plans.
If you travel to a country that does not have a well-developed healthcare system, then you could find that you end up being stuck in a country with health care plans which are far below the standard of the NHS.
The prime minister said he “fully understood” the public concern about the spread of the virus and it was “highly likely” the UK would see a growing number of cases.
There has also been mention that retired health care professionals could be called upon to help ease the pressure of the NHS with a special indemnity plan being put into place for anyone bought back on a temporary/part-time basis.
Find us in the new Google News App – search for ‘Emergency Services News’ and then click on the ‘star’ symbol to follow ESN.
Our social media group/community is open to both the public and emergency services personnel.
It is also a great place to share any emergency services related content (such as videos) which you have filmed.
If you have a story or video that you would like us to cover/share, then you can contact our team via email@example.com
We also cover stories which relate to the NHS, the armed forces and the security services.