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UK officially moves into ‘delay’ phase of coronavirus plan

New measures includes broader self-isolation advice

coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced new measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the UK, confirming that the government is moving into the next phase of its coronavirus response plan.

The first phase, ‘containment’, focused on tracking and isolating confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus – which causes the disease COVID-19 – to contain any outbreaks before they become too widespread.

However, as cases continue to grow and instances of community transmission spread – in which cases have no clear link to infected areas or persons – the government has announced new measures as it officially enters the ‘delay’ phase of its coronavirus plan.

This phase is focused on delaying the peak of the outbreak, likely until the summer, with the hopes the virus will not be able to spread at such an exponential rate in warmer weather.

The rationale for delaying the peak of the virus also coincides with another phase, which is already currently underway – research.

Delaying the spread of the virus will allow researches more time to develop and possibly manufacturer treatments, or even vaccines, which work against COVID-19.

As part of the newer, stricter measures, anyone who presents with fever or a ‘continuous’ cough are now being advised to self-isolate for seven days in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Johnson has also advised schools to cancel trips abroad, and people over the age of 70 and with pre-existing health conditions have been told not go on cruises.

While there have been officially 596 confirmed cases in the UK, as of yesterday, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said the true number of people infected could be anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000.

However, unlike a number of other countries in Europe, the government has not advised the closure of schools and has not yet called for the cancellation or postponing of large events – although it is considering this measure.

"The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time – but of course we are keeping this under review and this again may change as the disease spreads," said Johnson.

The new measures have been faced with criticism, however, with some saying the decision not to cancel large events is a mistake.

That includes ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said the decision was “surprising and concerning”.

"You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus," he added.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in the US, an outbreak of the coronavirus is snowballing in Cambridge, Massachusetts after a number of employees from Biogen tested positive for the virus.

As of Thursday, cases had increased to 108 in the state, of which 82 were directly associated with Biogen employees who attended a strategy meeting at the end of February.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

13th March 2020

From: Healthcare

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