16th March - Coronavirus update


We're stepping this up, as we reach a stage where numbers of cases are going to rapidly increase. We need people to take action, which means to avoid all but the most vital interactions with others, particularly the most vulnerable people. Work from home where you can, put off those visits to the pub for a while.

The latest coronavirus advice from today's press conference in summary:

- Avoid unnecessary social interactions such as pubs and clubs etc, and take measures to distance yourselves from physical interactions with others. People should work from home if they can, but if that's not possible you should still go to work. We're not banning or shutting things down at this point, but we're asking that everyone takes responsibility for avoiding spreading this virus by taking the advised actions.

- If you live on your own and experience symptoms then you should self isolate for 7 days. If you live in a larger household and anyone exhibits symptoms then your entire household should stay home for 14 days. This is to ensure that the entire household is no longer contagious by the end of the period.

- If you are elderly or have other underlying health conditions you should now isolate yourself and where possible seek help from others to access things like shopping. This is likely to continue for several months.

- Schools will remain open for now. This is because children themselves are a low risk and vulnerable adults should be isolated anyway, because we need parents to be able to work where possible and particularly in key services, and because the risk is that if children aren't in the routine and care of school then they will come in to contact with a broader range of people, including the vulnerable. We're keeping this under review, but for now schools remain open.

Government is withdrawing support from mass gatherings and will no longer provide emergency services support for such events, in order to redirect those staff to tackling the virus. There are likely to be more measures introduced over the coming weeks.

The reason for this is that we are reaching the period where the number of cases is going to be rising very sharply, and we need to slow that down to ensure that the health services can cope. This is a big ask, but it's absolutely vital. Please listen to the advice and if you are healthy and not exhibiting symptoms then seek to help others wherever you can.

Unfortunately the time is now to implement important measures that are going to be tough, but are absolutely necessary to delay the transmission of the virus and to keep people safe.

Watch today's press conference here.