ITALY was placed in total lockdown amid fears over the deadly Coronavirus that has already killed hundreds and infected over 7,000 – and Britain could soon follow suit as the Government makes extensive preparations.
As of 9am on 10 March 2020, 26,261 people have been tested in the UK, of which 25,888 were confirmed negative and 373 were confirmed as positive. Six patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Italy meanwhile has seen over 631 deaths rising from 400 overnight, leading to the Italian PM putting the whole country into lockdown to try to contain the virus.
The country also saw huge queues outside stores as shoppers tried to purchase as many food items as they could as the country enters lockdown.
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said that the measures were designed to protect the most vulnerable.
“There is no more time,” said Giuseppe.
“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now.”
“This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”
“I have been thinking about the old speeches of Churchill – it is our darkest hour, but we will make it”.
UK LOCKDOWN ‘WITHIN WEEKS’
Britain could enter lockdown ‘within the next two weeks’, and anyone with even mild symptoms of respiratory infection will be told to stay home for a week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I want to stress the following things. First, we are doing everything we can to combat this outbreak based on the latest scientific and medical advice.”
“Second, we have a truly brilliant NHS where staff have responded with all the determination, compassion and skill that makes their service so revered across the world and they will continue to have this government’s full support, my support, in tackling this virus on the front line.”
“Third, we will set out further steps in the days and weeks ahead to help people protect themselves, their family and in particularly the elderly and vulnerable.”
Professor Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical officer said the deadly virus could spread “really quite fast within the next 10 to 14 days, even people with a minor fever or respiratory tract infection would be advised to self-isolate.”
“We are going to be reaching that step in the near future,” he added.
British medics have focused on identifying and isolating people with the virus and tracing their contacts in an effort to contain or – if that fails – slow the spread of the illness.
U.K. officials say cancelling big events or making large numbers of people stay home at this point would be counterproductive, because people would tire of the constraints just when they are needed most, at the outbreak´s peak.
“You need to carry the population with you,” said Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London. “Because unless you carry the population with you, then people won´t adhere to it – or a significant proportion won´t – and then you undermine the whole strategy.”
Officials insist they are not complacent, and say Britain will introduce stronger measures as the virus spreads.
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said the government´s response so far had been “measured and well-judged.”
“Containment was always likely to fail in the end,” he said. “But I do judge that it has been successful in holding the epidemic back in the U.K. for some days or weeks.”
The Government will also intervene in the economy to cushion the impact of the outbreak, which has hammered global stock markets and hurt travel companies, airlines and bricks-and-mortar retailers.
The government´s annual budget, due on Wednesday, has been hastily rewritten. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is considering measures to stimulate an economy already weighed down by uncertainty over Britain´s future trade relationship with the European Union.
Business groups have urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to let firms defer tax payments, and to back emergency loans for struggling enterprises. Unions sough a guarantee that self-employed and contract workers will get sick pay if they have to stay home.
Sunak said the economic impact of the virus would be “significant” but temporary. He told the BBC that the government would act to give businesses “a bridge through a temporary period of difficulty so that they can emerge on the other side and we can get back to normal quickly.”
“We don´t know exactly which scenario we might be in, but we´re preparing for all of them,” he said.
Additional Reporting by AP, BBC News
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus, or it’s official name – COVID-19, is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
These pages are for the public. There is coronavirus information for health professionals on the NHS England website.
What’s the risk of coronavirus in the UK?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
What’s the risk of coronavirus for travellers?
There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How coronavirus is spread
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.
Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
Do I need to avoid public places?
Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.
You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.
How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Check if you need medical help
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Use this service if:
- you think you might have coronavirus
- in the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus – see our coronavirus advice for travellers
- you’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
Getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
- Scotland: call your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is not open
- Wales: call 111
- Northern Ireland: call 111
How to self-isolate if you’re asked to
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
This means you should:
- stay at home
- not go to work, school or public places
- not use public transport or taxis
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
- try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food
You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.
Read more coronavirus self-isolation advice.
Treatment for coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.