Coronavirus may wipe out crunch football games as vaccine is MONTHS away, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admits

CORONAVIRUS could wipe out crunch football games as ministers look at banning big public events, it was revealed today.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government would publish doomsday plans this week which could involve "population distancing measures".

Read our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates

In France the Government has banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people to try and stop the spread of the killer bug.

Huge clashes like Manchester United's derby with Manchester City at Old Trafford next weekend could be at risk if the virus spreads at face in the coming days.

Mr Hancock was asked about whether ministers would ban Brits from attending football matches, concerts, or even shut down ENTIRE towns and cities like in China.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: "We are looking at all options, including those… 

"We don’t take anything off the table at this stage."

It may be "too early" to make such calls but the top priority is keeping the public safe, he said.

He admitted that scientists have told him that it's "inevitable" that the crisis will become a global pandemic too.

And a vaccine is still months away from being developed.

Ministers will this week look at emergency powers they might need if the virus continues to spread – to make sure Britain is fully prepared.

"Under the worst-case scenario, we would have to take quite significant action that would have economic disruption," Mr Hancock told the BBC.
"We will be publishing battle plans this week that sets those things out."

It came as:

  • 23 cases of Coronavirus have now been confirmed in Britain – including one who caught the disease in Britain
  • Thirty-five schools are now on lockdown amid pandemic fears
  • Rugby has already been hit by the postponement of next week’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and virus-plagued Italy
  • Boris Johnson will set up a war room to combat the virus, and will chair COBRA tomorrow
  • Millions could be told to work from home to stop it spreading further in emergency plans under consideration

The Health Secretary said the Government already were able to forcibly quarantine members of the population if they were at risk.

And thanks to large-scale No Deal planning in the past six months, the country already has stockpiles of several types of drug that could be used if needed to try and treat the virus.

He also cast into doubt the information coming from other countries such as China and Iran on Coronavirus – amid fears they are suppressing the true number of people affected.

"We don't think all the figures from around the world are fully accurate," he said.

"We update [our] figures all the time… but we don't say any of those figures are concrete and definitive."

Experts have warned that desperate moves to contain the Covid-19 outbreak could decimate all sport across the UK for months.

Clubs yesterday began taking their own precautions to protect star players from infection.

Tottenham’s injured South Korean ace Son Heung-min, 27, has been forced to self-isolate for two weeks after returning from his home country, where hundreds of cases have erupted.

Last night the outbreak was casting a shadow over horse racing’s historic Cheltenham Festival, which begins in 11 days time.

Organisers insist it is “full steam ahead” for the four-day meeting.

But the odds of racing not taking place on the first day were a mere 2/1 last night.

Cheltenham expects 250,000 spectators to attend the festival and the event in Gloucestershire will not take place without them.

Rugby has already been hit by the postponement of next week’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and virus-plagued Italy.

England's football friendly against Italy at Wembley on Friday March 27 is still officially on — though it is subject to review.

The Chinese Formula One Grand Prix scheduled for April 19 has been postponed, while other races are in doubt.


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