Emergency battle plan to fight coronavirus to be revealed

The details will be published on Tuesday at Downing Street with Scottish specific information.

Emergency battle plan to fight coronavirus to be revealed Getty Images

The UK’s battle plan to tackle coronavirus is due to be revealed as the country prepares for the illness to spread more widely in the days and weeks ahead.

The details will be published in each area on Tuesday with Scottish specific information made available alongside the four nations plan.

The number of people in the UK who have tested positive for the virus stands at 39 with one case confirmed in Scotland on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out the Government’s plan, vowing that officials are “ready to take necessary steps” to contain coronavirus and protect the vulnerable.

The plan, to be launched at Downing Street on Tuesday, is expected to include a “war room” to bring together communications experts and scientists from across Government and the NHS to roll out a public information campaign.

Other measures could see people discouraged from unnecessary travel, workers urged to stay at home, and retired doctors and nurses asked to return to work to help deal with patients.

It is understood that potential plans could include getting volunteers into public services to help out with things like delivering food to hospital patients.

Other measures could include cancelling events, and giving Border Force officials powers to act if they spot people with the virus.

Legislation allowing the Government to use extra powers to help control Covid-19 is expected to go through Parliament by the end of the month.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that the number of home ventilation kits is being expanded.

On whether the NHS would be able to cope if the virus reaches pandemic level, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “A lot of people, not least because it is mild, will be best off at home than in hospital, so we are expanding the number of home ventilation kits that are available so that can be done.

“The NHS, of course, has a full plan for this and prepares for this even when there isn’t an outbreak.”

Following an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday, at which ministers discussed the “battle plan”,

Johnson said coronavirus is “highly likely” to spread more widely.

While he has insisted the NHS is well prepared to deal with any outbreak, a doctors’ group warned there are concerns that an already-stretched health service will not cope in the event of a huge increase in cases.

The Doctors’ Association UK said just eight of 1,618 medics surveyed felt the NHS is ready for coronavirus.

Despite a forthcoming public health campaign, a YouGov poll suggested 54% of people have not been taking any extra steps to protect themselves.

On Monday the First Minister warned the Scottish Government is expecting a “significant outbreak of coronavirus”, with estimates of between 50% and 80% of the population becoming infected.

Speaking after the first case of the Covid-19 virus was confirmed in Scotland, Sturgeon said ministers were working to slow the spread of the virus to give the NHS the best possible chance of coping.

The forecasts are based on modelling from the outbreak in China, with Sturgeon seeking to reassure the pubic there are “well-established procedures and protocols in place”.

Sturgeon explained Scotland’s response to the global epidemic is in the “contain phase” and will be escalated to the “delay phase” – which could lead to large events being cancelled and revised advice issued – based on the advice of scientific experts from across the UK.

“In terms of the delay phase, part of the purpose of that is to try to ensure those kind of numbers are not all hitting all at once, that the spread of the infection is being slowed down,” she said.

“It’s really important in situations like this to be frank and factual in the information we give but we are dealing with reasonable worst-case predictions.

“We are not sitting here right now saying all of this will come to pass but I think the public would want to know we are preparing on the basis of what we think is the reasonable worst-case outcome.”

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