Coronavirus: Avoid all unnecessary contact says Boris Johnson, with cases set to rocket
Avoid all unnecessary contact - that was the advice from Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the first of his new daily press conferences on the coronavirus crisis.
He urged people to work from home and avoid pubs, clubs, and theatres in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
He warned cases are expected to double every five or six days.
As of 9am today (Monday), there are now more than 1,500 confirmed cases in the UK, although the true figure will be much higher as those self-isolating with mild symptoms are not being tested.
The number of confirmed cases in Cambridgeshire rose more sharply in the latest data released, increasing by five to 12.
The government has previously stated anyone with a high temperature or a new and continuous cough should self-isolate, but the Prime Minister updated the guidance to include all members of the family.
“According to SAGE (The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts), it looks as if we are now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve and without drastic action cases could double every five or six days," he said during the briefing in Downing Street.
“If you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms then you should stay at home for 14 days.
“That means, if possible you should not go out - even to buy food or essentials.
“If necessary you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities.
“And if that is not possible you should do what you can to limit social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.
“Even if you don’t have symptoms and if no one in your household has symptoms there is more we need you to do now.
“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can and you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.
“We should all only use the NHS when we really need to - please go online rather than ringing NHS 111.”
The most vulnerable in society are being asked to self-isolate for up to 12 weeks to help slow the spread of the disease and give the NHS the chance to cope.
So far, 35 people in the UK have died, 1,543 have tested positive and 42,562 have been tested but do not have coronavirus.
Responding, Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Many businesses have already started rolling out plans for their staff to work from home under the present circumstances.
“With this latest government advice, every single business is now accelerating efforts to support people to work remotely.
“But for many occupations, working from home is simply not possible. Businesses and the government must keep considering how people can be supported if they follow public health advice to self-isolate, but are unable to work.
“And then there are sectors already coming under significant stress that will need a step change in support from the government in the coming days. As people stop travelling and avoid social activities in public places, firms ranging from airlines to cinemas, pubs and restaurants will face real pressures.”
More by this authorPaul Brackley