Coronavirus: Government steps up battle plan for tackling Covid-19

4 March 2020, 00:10

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Downing Street has put hand washing at the centre of its public awareness campaign as its battle plan for tackling the coronavirus outbreak intensifies.

A video released by the government and the NHS today explains to people how they can protect themselves and other people against the disease.

The footage states that viruses "can live on some surfaces for hours" and that people should wash their hands more often to combat the outbreak of Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is urging people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitiser, as part of the government's battle plan.

In addition, you should carry out the practice every time you come in from home or work, after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze, and before you eat or handle food.

Coughing and sneezing should be done into tissues, which should then be binned.

The government and the NHS have rolled out a media campaign for tackling the virus
The government and the NHS have rolled out a media campaign for tackling the virus. Picture: HM Government / NHS

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the video campaign had been rolled out "in response to the current global situation."

They added: "It offers clear, practical advice so the public can play their part in preventing and slowing the spread of the virus.

"New content will now be rolled out across print, radio, online and out of home."

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the UK was a "world leader in preparing for and managing disease outbreaks" and that he has "every confidence" in the country's ability to respond to the infection.

“We all have a role to play in stopping this disease," he added.

"That’s what this expanded campaign is all about – making sure the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe. Washing hands regularly is the single most important thing that an individual can do.

“Public safety remains our top priority. The government and the NHS are working 24/7 to fight this virus. It’s imperative that everyone follows clinical advice by contacting NHS 111, and not going to A&E if you develop symptoms.”

Boris Johnson launched his battle plan in Downing Street on Tuesday
Boris Johnson launched his battle plan in Downing Street on Tuesday. Picture: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the UK's battle plan on Tuesday as the total number of cases in the country rose from 39 to 51.

The Tory leader said his government is "ready to take necessary steps" to contain coronavirus and protect the vulnerable.

His plan includes a new "war room" which will bring together communications experts and scientists from across government and the NHS to roll out a public information campaign.

The PM launched the new strategy in Downing Street — joined by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

They laid out the government’s four-stage plan — contain, delay, research and mitigate.