Rory Stewart labels Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan "irresponsible" over coronavirus

12 March 2020, 08:35 | Updated: 12 March 2020, 08:40

By Adrian Sherling

Rory Stewart urged the government to shut all schools and ban large gatherings now to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The independent candidate to be Mayor of London said that every day Boris Johnson doesn't act will increase the number of cases of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister is expected to move Britain into a new phase of tackling the outbreak after the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he said: "Both the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister have been far too slow to respond to this.

"Schools should be closed already. Gatherings should be banned. The St Patrick's Day Parade which is coming this weekend should be banned.

"All the evidence from other countries is that the sooner you move to close schools, stop gatherings and encourage people to work from home, the more chance you have of getting on top of this and reducing the death toll."

Nick Ferrari spoke to Rory Stewart about the response to coronavirus
Nick Ferrari spoke to Rory Stewart about the response to coronavirus. Picture: LBC / PA

Nick asked what that will do to the economy and Mr Stewart admitted it will be severe, but necessary to combat the spread of coronavirus.

He said: "The impact will be very severe. It's very important to understand that dealing with a virus like this is very costly, but you have to take that impact because if you don't... this virus currently doubles every 3-6 days. If it doubles every three days, we'd go from the current caseload we have now to potentially over 100,000 cases within 24 days.

"You have to get on top of this. That's why it was totally irresponsible to gather all those MPs together for the Budget. It was completely irresponsible of the Mayor yesterday to hold a Mayor's Question Time where he filled the room full of people. Responsible leaders should not be doing this.

Mr Stewart also suggested the London Marathon needed to be cancelled, citing evidence from the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 in which cities which held parades had worse outbreaks than those which didn't.

He also revealed he has stopped sleeping in strangers' houses to help keep Londoners safe from coronavirus.

Watch the full interview at the top of the page.