The UK government will announce its plan to deal with the expected widescale spread of the COVID-19 virus in the next few hours.
The measures are widely expected to include emergency legislation under the Civil Contingencies Act, which, amongst other aspects, allows for the deployment of army & other service personnel including police, along with fiscal spending without recourse to a parliamentary vote.
Following an emergency *COBRA meeting at Downing Street yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “The most important thing right now, is that we prepare against a possible, very significant expansion of coronavirus in the UK population. That’s clearly on the cards”.
In global terms, the UK currently has a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (39), with only one death, however, these numbers are expected to rise exponentially.
The European Union yesterday raised the coronavirus risk from ‘medium’, to ‘medium to high’ for the 27 member states.
British Airways, along with budget airline Ryanair have cancelled hundreds of flights, mainly due to a drop in demand.
BA said the changes to its timetable as a result of the coronavirus outbreak would see “a number of flights merged between 16 March and 28 March”.
A spokesman for the airline said: “We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including re-booking on to other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel”
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance, said the government was making, “every possible preparation”.
These are believed to include the potential closure of schools and banning of large public gatherings, as well as restrictions on public transport.
The government has also floated the possibility of asking recently retired doctors and nurses to return to the health profession to assist.
A public information campaign will also commence this week, advising the general public how best to prevent the spread of the disease. Porter Medium noted that this has already commenced on social media, (see below)
*COBRA is an anagram which stands for ‘Cabinet Office Briefing Room A’. It is the coming together of senior UK cabinet ministers at number 10 Downing Street, along with other relevant officials to deal with a particular crisis, and is usually chaired by the Prime Minister.