Matt Hancock refuses to rule out a Wuhan-style quarantine for UK CITY
Health Secretary Matt Hancock refuses to rule out a Wuhan-style quarantine for an entire UK CITY as he says the Government will publish a coronavirus ‘battleplan’ this week and and warns a vaccine for the killer virus is ‘many months off’
- Wuhan has been in lockdown for weeks since virus outbreak started there
- Hancock would not rule out similar plan in the UK if cases grew exponentially
- Urged public to wash their hands and ‘go about their ordinary business’ for now
Matt Hancock refused today to rule out a Wuhan-style quarantine for an entire UK city if it was struck by a mass coronavirus outbreak.
The Health Secretary had the admission as he said that the Government would publish a ‘battleplan’ for dealing with am epidemic of the virus this week.
Ministers are reportedly to consider whether to recommend millions of people work from home and order businesses to halt all ‘unnecessary travel’ to cut down social interaction.
Mr Hancock warned that a vaccine was ‘many months off’ but effective treatments would be available sooner and urged the public to wash their hands but overwise ‘go about their ordinary business’ at this stage.
Asked if the Government would consider isolating an entire town or city as the Chinese did with Wuhan, the urban centre of 11million people at the heart of the outbreak which has been in lockdown for weeks, he said: ‘There’s clearly a huge economic and social downside to that but we don’t take anything off the table at this stage…
”We are looking at all options, but we will only look at things that epidemiologically and scientifically make sense.’
Mr Hancock defended the Prime Minister, saying Mr Johnson had been ‘all over this’ issue, in daily contact with ministers.
It came as health chiefs have urged people aged over 60 to avoid crowds amid wide-spread coronavirus panic as an infant school worker was revealed as one of three new UK patients.
The Health Secretary had the admission as he said that the Government would publish a ‘battleplan’ for dealing with am epidemic of the virus this week
Wuhan, the urban centre of 11million people at the heart of the outbreak, has been in lockdown for weeks
Three more patients in England tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, while Ireland reported its first patient.
The World Health Organisation issued the drastic warning which also urged people in this age group to skip routine appointments at doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.
But Mr Hancock said clamping down on travel and banning public gatherings at this stage was unlikely to be effective.
Mr Hancock said the Government had not ‘ruled out’ bringing in more stringent measures to deal with the spread of the virus, should matters deteriorate.
But he noted that stopping all flights from China, as pushed by some, had not proved successful for Italy, which is the worst affected country in Europe.
‘If we get to a position where this is much more widespread, then of course we will change the advice to deal with that,’ he told Sky News.
‘But at this stage people should go about their ordinary business.
‘There’s a danger to doing things too early because they wouldn’t be effective.
‘At the moment the number of cases in this country is 23. And that means that so long as people are washing their hands and taking the precautions that are set out, that is the right thing to do.’
It comes as a worker at an infant school in Berkshire was one of three further patients from England who tested positive for coronavirus yesterday bringing the total number of UK cases to 23.
Parents were sent an email advising them that Willow Bank Infant School will be ‘shut for some days to allow for a deep clean’ as it is revealed more than 10,000 Britons have now been tested for the deadly virus.
The other two cases – one in the Cotswolds, specifically Gloucestershire and another in Hertfordshire – are being investigated and any individuals who had contact with the patients are now being traced.
The Cotswolds resident became infected in Italy, where more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed.
Public Health England would not clarify, however, which of the Berkshire and the Hertfordshire cases had returned from Italy and which had returned from Asia.
A worker at an infant school in Berkshire tested positive for the virus, as parents were sent an email advising them of the news
The letter to parents of pupils at the Berkshire infant school (pictured) read: ‘We regret to inform you that we were told today that one of our members of staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, COVID- 19’
Mr Hancock said the NHS was ready to deal with coronavirus if the situation worsened, with more than 5,000 emergency critical care beds available.
He told Sky News: ‘Of course this would be a very big pressure on the NHS, depending on the scale of the impact.
‘At the moment we have already expanded the number of high acute critical care beds that we need and we have the option to expand that further.
‘We have expanded it to 50 in the first instance, when there are relatively few cases.
‘But we can go up. We have plans to take that up to 500, and up to 5,000 if that’s necessarily. We have those plans in place.’
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