Coronavirus cases have reached 85 in the UK, intensifying the effort by public health bodies and the government to reduce the spread of the virus. Prime minister Boris Johnson spoke to Phil and holly on ITV’s This morning to address public concerns and provide a status on what is happening on the ground to control the escalating crisis. According to the PM, the issue is “mild to moderate” and where you fall in this category depends on a number of factors.
Keen to allay public fears, Boris explained that the risk to the general population is relatively small.
The most at-risk group is the elderly so steps must be taken to protect this age group, however, he said.
In light of this, the PM said it is “counterintuitive” to cancel sporting events, close schools and avoid other big gatherings.
“Schools shouldn’t close unless there is an incident in a specific school,” said Boris.
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To implement this plan, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergency (SAGE) is convening to consider a range of options to delay the spread, from stopping sporting gatherings and closing schools, to more targeted interventions, such as helping the elderly.
“These are epidemiologists who understand behavioural psychology of the population,” explained the PM.
He added that the UK government will avoid “draconian” measures in a bid to delay the spread.
Coronavirus – what we know about the virus so far?
According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, explains WHO.
Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans, says the health body.
Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans, it adds.
What are the warning signs?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.