Coronavirus: Boris Johnson urges 'everyone' to avoid pubs, clubs and social gatherings

16 March 2020, 17:06

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson has said that people should avoid all "unnecessary contact with others" and "avoid pubs, clubs and other venues" to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The UK Prime Minister was giving the first of now-daily updates set to take place during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "If you or anyone in your household shows symptoms you should stay indoors for 14 days, unless for exercise or at a safe distance from others."

Anyone who lives with someone who has a cough or a temperature should stay at home for two weeks, the PM said.

Mr Johnson said people should ask for help from others for all their daily essentials and all but essential travel should be stopped.

He added that: "Now is the time for everyone to stop unnecessary contact with others and you should avoid pubs, clubs and other types of venues."

It comes as the UK's total deaths from coronavirus surged by 18 to 53.

The prime minister said that those with the most serious health conditions, who are most vulnerable to the virus, should be shielded from contact for up to 12 weeks from the weekend onwards.

He added that London "is a few weeks ahead of the rest of the country" and so Londoners must be particularly vigilant.

The prime minister said the government "will not support" mass gatherings from Tuesday onwards.

Mr Johnson stated that "drastic action" would be needed to help delay the spread of the disease and that "it looks as though we are now approaching the fast-growth part of the upwards curve."

He has also urged Brits to work from home from now on.

The chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said school closures would not yet be necessary.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty added that anyone over 70, pregnant women, or people with significant health issues should take greater care to minimise contact with others.

He also said the next few months would be "extraordinarily difficult for the NHS in all four home nations."

They also warned that the UK is just three weeks behind Italy in the number of people who were infected.

Each day Mr Johnson or other senior ministers, alongside Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick will lead a press conference about the Covid-19 response.

Downing Street had previously been criticised over a lack of transparency, however, from now on the government will face media scrutiny on a daily basis.

Monday's address followed an emergency Cobra meeting that was set to start at around 3pm on Monday.

On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that over-70s could be told to self-isolate for up to four months within the "coming weeks".

He added that the government would "stop at nothing" to minimise the spread of the virus.

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The Department of Health and Social Care announced on Sunday that 14 more patients died after testing positive for the virus, which brought the UK-wide total to 35.

However, the number of UK deaths, as of Monday evening, now stands at 53 following an announcement from Matt Hancock.

It comes after Wales' chief medical officer confirmed the first Welsh coronavirus death.

It means there has now been a death in each UK nation. Most of those who have died have been people over the age of 60 and have had underlying health conditions.

Dr Giri Shankar, of Public Health Wales, said: "The Chief Medical Officer has today confirmed the death of a Welsh resident who had tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Public Health Wales offer our sincere condolences to family and friends affected by this loss."

Up to 7.9 million people could require hospital treatment in the UK over the next 12 months.

A leaked Public Health England briefing given to senior NHS officials suggests the coronavirus epidemic could last until next spring.

The total number of people to test positive for the disease in the UK has risen by 171 in a day to a total of 1,543, according to the Department of Health. More than 44,000 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK.

Meanwhile, all but essential travel to the EU is set to be banned for 30 days in order to tackle the pandemic.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen proposed the ban on Monday, saying: "The less travel, the more we can contain the virus."

This story is being updated ...