‘Britons could be forced to put their lives on hold for three months under a ‘battle plan’ to combat Coronavirus amid warnings today that the deadly disease could incapacitate a fifth of the UK’s workforce.
Boris Johnson today set out the Government’s blueprint to deal with a mass outbreak of the bug that includes a raft of socially and economically costly contingency moves as a last resort.
Sporting events could be axed and a ‘social distancing’ strategy would see people encouraged to work from home to avoid unnecessary travel, while an army of NHS volunteers could be recruited to help ease the burden on the health service.
As the number of confirmed UK cases passed 50, it revealed police could ignore low-level crime and troops could be deployed on the streets if officers are incapacitated through illness.
Hospital patients not suffering from the disease could also be sent home to free up beds, and local authorities will be helped with the ‘challenge’ of dealing with increasing numbers of deaths among the elderly and vulnerable.
These measures could be in place of up to 12 weeks in a bid to contain the spread of the virus and treat those affected.
The striking scenario emerged as Boris Johnson published the action plan, warning at a press conference that it was now ‘highly likely’ there would be a major outbreak of coronavirus in the UK.
The threat was underlined this afternoon as it emerged the number of confirmed cases has jumped from 39 to 51 in the past day.
The PM said the government would take all ‘necessary and reasonable steps’, but appealed for the public to keep ‘going about our business as usual’.
Asked whether he thought the UK still had the ‘bulldog spirit’ to combat the virus, the premier said: ‘I do think that this is a national challenge. The potential is there for this to be something that our country has to get through.’
Read more: Britons could be forced to put their lives on hold for three months under coronavirus ‘battle plan’ that would see troops on the streets, police ignoring minor crime and patients turfed out of hospitals amid warning that one-in-five workers could go sick