Johnson to call Cobra meeting on Monday over coronavirus plan

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

Prime minister Boris Johnson will hold an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday to decide whether to trigger plans to delay the spreading of coronavirus in the UK.

The UK is currently in the “containment” phase of the government’s four-point plan to stifle the virus.

Discussions will likely centre around whether to trigger the “delay” phase and bring in new measures, such as suspending well-attended events, playing sports fixtures behind closed doors, closing schools and encouraging people to work from home.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will attend the meeting and will have to give their consent to trigger the next step of the plan.

Sunday saw the biggest spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, after the number rose from 209 to 278. The latest death linked to coronavirus was that of a man in his 60s who had returned from Italy and had a history of health issues.

Large parts of northern Italy are now under quarantine, with the Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel to such areas and some airlines cancelling both inbound and outbound flights. British citizens can still leave Italy unhindered and anybody returning from quarantined zones in the last 14 days has been advised to self-isolate.

Italy has now confirmed 7,375 cases of coronavirus as of Monday morning, the highest number outside of China, its point of origin. Italy's death toll also increased from 133 to 366 between Saturday and Sunday.

Culture, Media and Sport secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC that sports events need not be avoided or cancelled, based on up-to-date health advice.

Dowden said: "We are guided by the facts and we are guided by the evidence. At the moment the advice is clear from the chief medical officer: there isn't a need to cancel such events." 

Meanwhile, environment Secretary George Eustice will hold discussions with UK supermarket chiefs about contingency plans, which will include plans to support vulnerable people undergoing self-isolation.

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Authored By

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

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