image

Over-70s will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months

The measure is expected in the coming weeks

Elderly people will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months, as the UK escalates its fight against coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is a “very big ask”, but it is a measure which is for their own “self-protection”.

In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Mr Hancock said the steps are “very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country”.

The gearing up of the Government’s efforts comes as the UK’s Covid-19 death toll rose on Saturday from 11 to 21, while the number of people testing positive for the disease passed the 1,000 mark.

Mr Hancock said that people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months, in order to protect them from the virus.

Asked if that was in the Government’s plan, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so, because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it’s for their own self-protection.”

Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: “Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely.”

He said coronavirus is “a very significant challenge” that will “disrupt the lives of almost everybody” in the UK.

“The measures that we’re taking, the measures that we’re looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus,” he said.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson will personally urge manufacturers to shift their production lines to build ventilators, as the NHS prepares for a significant increase in cases of Covid-19.

Mr Hancock said: “The thing the NHS needs now more than anything else is more ventilators. We’ve been buying as many as we can but we need to produce more too.”

He said he could not make guarantees that everyone who requires a ventilator will get one, saying: “We don’t make guarantees in healthcare.”

The Health Secretary said a Bill setting out emergency powers to deal with the outbreak will be published on Thursday, and details of what the powers will include will be shared on Tuesday.

Mr Hancock said ministers are yet to make a decision on whether to ban gatherings of over 500 people in the rest of the UK, after Scotland said it would bring in restrictions from Monday.

“We are absolutely ready to do that as necessary,” he said, but he pointed towards a Cobra meeting being held on Monday when asked when the decision will be made.

Total coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government is in talks with private hospitals about the possibility of taking over beds, in a further sign of the pressures that will face the health service at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Hancock said: “Our generation has never been tested like this.

“Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

“Despite the pounding every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they pulled together in one gigantic national effort.

“Today our generation is facing its own test, fighting a very real and new disease.”

The increase in activity came after 10 more patients died in England after testing positive for Covid-19, while the US government imposed a travel ban on the UK and Ireland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts on the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) set out the need for extra action to slow the spread of the disease.

The panel advised that the next interventions “will need to be instituted soon”.

There could also be a shift to household isolation rather than individual self-isolation.

Coronavirus panic buying

Empty shelves in the fruit and vegetable section of an Asda store in London

Mr Hancock said he was “confident” shops will not run out of food but could not guarantee it, and warned the Government could take further action.

Asked if food supply might be at risk, the Health Secretary told Sophy Ridge: “No, one of the things we are confident about is that the food supply will continue.”

There have been 1,140 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Saturday, up from 798 at the same time on Friday.

At a press conference on Saturday, US President Donald Trump, who has tested negative for the virus, announced the extension of his travel restrictions to cover the UK and Ireland.

The changes will come in at midnight on Monday night in the eastern US.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and the president spoke on Saturday evening and “the Prime Minister set out the science-led approach the UK is taking”.

On Monday the Prime Minister will urge manufacturers to join a “national effort” to produce equipment for the NHS.

Coronavirus-related deaths in the UK

Engineers have already been asked to draw up plans to quickly produce more ventilators in the UK, amid concerns that critical care facilities will come under intense pressure as the Covid-19 crisis intensifies.

Negotiations are also taking place with private health firms about access to their hospital beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “We need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort.”

Whitehall sources have already indicated that mass gatherings could be banned from next weekend.

Other measures, including school closures, have also been considered as an option to combat the spread of the virus.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, who has attended the Cobra meetings formulating the UK’s response, suggested that schools would need to be closed for four months if that step was taken.

Meanwhile, a newborn baby in England who has tested positive for coronavirus is likely to be one of the world’s youngest patients with the disease.

The infant and its mother both tested positive at a north London hospital and staff who had contact with them have been advised to self-isolate.

The UK’s approach to developing “herd immunity” against Covid-19 has been called into question.

In an open letter, a group of 229 scientists from UK universities argued that “going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary”.

A Department of Health and Social care spokesman said: “Herd immunity is not part of our action plan, but is a natural by-product of an epidemic.

“Our aims are to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.”

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
Margaret Hart
20th Mar 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Th3 people who have stockpiled to such a ridiculous extent are he ones who are shouting the loudest that they are going to carryon as they want. That was not the way in the war everybody cared and helped wherever they could. Us elderly people really must have that attitude again as we are most at risk together with the people who are already ill and must take even more care. Most of us could not do the early shopping and many have no hand sanitiser and could be very low one loo rolls and other necessities including food. There are quite a few groups of kind and helpfUl people who are getting together and organising shopping and visiting rotes to try to help the at risk groups and they will be thanked forever. You only have to read the comments on Facebook to see how uncaring some people are but also look for the many kind hearted people.
Glenwoodgirl
16th Mar 2020
4
Thanks for voting!
When you are older time flies anyway and we will be doing not just for ourselves but for the good of all so always look on the bright side of life and think what a party we can all have at the end of it.
ElisabethR
15th Mar 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Oh dear........... All this panic what is going on.? I think most of us have cupboards that contain a few long lasting things..... A couple of tins of tuna, Tom's, pasta beans maybe. I use lentils quite a bit and always have a packet open and a spare......... But enough for 4 months? A pkt of 4 bars of soap lasts months though so at least I shall have clean hands. Just hope those who have stockpiled enough for a year will share a little when they realise rather a lot of it will go off before it can be used. I do feel the media has a lot of the blame to carry for all the panic........ Supposition rather than fact.
Take care people.
SueB412
15th Mar 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I think that this would be a lot calmer if people didn't panic buy. The article mentions ww 2. It was a crime to stock pile then. I'm taking a food parcel to my daughter today, because she couldn't get much food yesterday, the shelves being empty of things such as beans, bread, nappies, butter. She has 3 young children to feed and only wants to get what she wants for the week, yet she can't because someone else has bought the lot, just in case!!!!

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!