Boris Johnson: Coronavirus 'likely to spread more' in UK

1 March 2020, 19:23

Boris Johnson has said coronavirus is expected to spread
Boris Johnson has said coronavirus is expected to spread. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has said coronavirus is expected to "spread a bit more" before it is entirely contained.

Speaking to reporters at a Public Health England centre in Colindale, north London, the Prime Minister said he was "very, very confident" that the NHS is able to cope with an outbreak of coronavirus.

"As you know, we've found about 35 people in this country who have, or have had, the illness," he added.

"And clearly there may be more, that's likely to spread a bit more, and it's vital therefore that people understand that we do have a great plan, a plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

"And I am very, very confident that in the NHS we have the professionals who will be well able to cope with it."

Mr Johnson said the best way to stop the spread of the virus was hand washing, adding: "20 seconds, two times Happy Birthday I'm told, with hot water and soap."

A further 12 people tested positive today
A further 12 people tested positive today. Picture: PA

Talking about the Government's updated contingency plan, he said: "I think what we're saying is that we will be setting out the various measures, as the disease progresses, if it progresses in the way we think it may.

"We will be setting out the various measures in which we think the public should be responding, which public bodies should be responding, we'll be sending that out tomorrow, the next day.

"But the crucial thing is, as I say, the public does what it can, we all do what we can to stop the spread ourselves."

Three of the latest 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus relate to a man from Surrey who tested positive on Friday, becoming the first person to get infected within the UK.

They are all adults - one more from Surrey and two from West Sussex - and are not GPs or health workers.

Dr James Mapstone, acting regional director for the south of England for Public Health England (PHE), said: "PHE is providing specialist advice to local authority partners around two confirmed cases in Surrey and two in West Sussex.

"The four cases are part of an adult family cluster. We are aware of the people they have been in contact with and we are making contact with those people to issue appropriate advice and steps to take if they start to feel unwell."

Ruth Hutchinson, interim director of public health for Surrey County Council, and Anna Raleigh, director of public health for West Sussex County Council, said in a joint statement: "We are working closely together and with Public Health England and the NHS to make sure everything possible is being done to protect people in our respective counties and minimise the spread of the virus."