Downing Street to air daily coronavirus updates live on TV

Published by Scott Challinor on March 16th 2020, 9:09am

The UK government has announced plans to hold daily televised briefings to keep the British public informed on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, starting from Monday.

The addresses will be carried out by prime minister Boris Johnson or another senior minister.

A spokesperson said that the government is “committed” to keeping the public updated, and that the steps it takes will be determined by science to ensure it triggers "the right responses at the right time".

As of 08:00 GMT on Monday morning, 35 people had died in the UK as a result of the coronavirus.

Johnson will host Monday’s TV briefing, with chief UK medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance appearing alongside him. Another Cobra committee meeting will be held beforehand, during which the government will decide its next steps.

A decision on suspending mass gatherings or implementing measures to protect elderly and vulnerable people may be taken on Monday, after health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that over-70s will be told to self-isolate for an extended period of time for their own safety.

Hancock said that the measures would come into force "within the coming weeks" and that legislation to give the government emergency powers to help curb the spread of the virus will be revealed in more detail from Tuesday.

The government has opened dialogue with private healthcare providers over acquiring extra beds, while some hotels could also be temporarily converted into makeshift hospitals. A government appeal to engineering and manufacturing firms has also begun over converting their production lines to focus on making NHS ventilators.

Meanwhile, education secretary Gavin Williamson will also hold talks with UK head teachers, with schools remaining open for the time being.

Elsewhere, transport secretary Grant Shapps has informed the BBC that discussions will be held with airline bosses on the impact of the outbreak on the UK travel sector, and that he and chancellor Rishi Sunak would explore the prospect of providing financial support for affected businesses.

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
March 16th 2020, 9:09am

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