MINISTERS are preparing to ask the elderly not to leave their homes if coronavirus spreads out of control.
The drastic measure will be revealed by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries, who said special measures will be put in place for “the vulnerable” – meaning the old and those with health conditions.
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Ministers are preparing to ask the elderly to stay at home if coronavirus spreads out of control
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries will reveal the new measures
Her warning in an article for HOAR comes as the government intensifies preparations for the virus to spread nationwide.
Boris Johnson will chair another COBRA emergency committee meeting of experts and senior Cabinet ministers to decide whether to start imposing restrictions on people’s movements.
Medical bosses could recommend to the PM that it is time to move from Contain to the Delay phase of the fight as early as Monday, triggering some of the tough measures.
Revealing the plan for the elderly as well as home working, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries wrote: “It is now likely the virus is going to spread so we are stepping up planning to delay the peak of the outbreak to reduce the number of patients coming into the NHS during our busy winter period.
“We may in the future recommend certain measures, such as working from home or asking more vulnerable people to stay at home.”
Statistics show the elderly are far more likely to fall seriously ill from coronavirus, with 8% of those in their 70s who catch it dying, and 14% in their 80s dying.
Meanwhile children have a close to zero % mortality rate, and the figure only rises to 1% for those in their 50s.
Millions of older people being confined to their homes would have a big knock on effect for the working population.
Their younger relatives would have to take time out to shop for them and look after all of their outside needs.
But each move is closely dictated by “the latest evidence” and will only be enforced if the science backs it up, Dr Harries insisted.
She added: “We must carefully balance social and economic costs against clinical effectiveness and the need to keep people safe”.
The PM also issued a fresh warning over the trials ahead in a bid to steel the nation.
Mr Johnson said: “The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the UK and around the world.
“We are well prepared and will continue to make decisions to protect the public based on the latest scientific advice.
“Tackling coronavirus will require a national and international effort. I am confident the British people are ready to play their part in that.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a report that 100,000 Britons could die from the coronavirus outbreak is the “worst case scenario”.
Ms Sturgeon joined a COBRA meeting last week via teleconference.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also insisted the Government is doing “everything in its power” to delay and mitigate the coronavirus threat as the number of infected people in the UK topped 200.
Mr Hancock said: “We will do all we can to contain coronavirus, but, as we know, Covid-19 is spreading across the world, so I want to ensure Government is doing everything in its power to be ready to delay and mitigate this threat.
“Public safety is my top priority.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted the Government is doing ‘everything in its power’ to delay the coronavirus threat
The PM said the Government will continue to make decisions to protect the public based on the latest scientific advice