The public has been warned to prepare for “social distancing” as the number of coronavirus cases in the UK jumped to 206 – a 25% increase from the 164 cases recorded yesterday.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jennie Harries told the BBC the UK is “teetering on the edge” of sustained transmission but remains in the “containment phase” of tracing Covid-19 cases to try and halt it spreading in the community.
The UK has a four-phase strategy to respond to Covid-19 – containment, delay, mitigation and research, which is conducted during each phase.
The shift to phase two, Dr Harries said, is dependent on how fast the virus spreads and the Guardian quotes the “delay phase” of the government’s battle plan as stating: “Action that would be considered could include population distancing strategies (such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large-scale gatherings) to slow the spread of the disease throughout the population, while ensuring the country’s ability to continue to run as normally as possible.”
Elderly advised to ‘visit relatives now’
Elderly people are being advised to “visit relatives now before ‘social distancing’ policies are introduced”, which, the Telegraph reports, will see the elderly “warned to stay at home as the coronavirus crisis worsens”.
The first death of a person diagnosed with Covid-19, a woman in her 70s being treated at hospital in Reading, was recorded on Thursday, and followed with the confirmation of the second death on Friday of a man in his 80s who died at Milton Keynes University hospital.
Up to this morning (Saturday), 21,460 people have been tested for Covid-19 in the UK, with 206 positive diagnoses, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Panic buying ‘engenders panic in itself’
Dr Harries said measures taken to slow the virus need to be “proportionate” and “balance the benefits” of disrupting people’s lives and the economy.
The deputy chief medical officer also warned against the public panic-buying and said stockpiling resulting in empty shelves at supermarkets, could “engender panic in itself”.
However, as many as one-in-ten UK consumers is “stockpiling”, according to a survey conducted by Retail Economics, leading to retailers and chemists imposing limits on products such as toilet paper and hand-sanitizers. Some online platforms are profiteering from the outbreak, with the BBC reporting a 100ml Cuticura Total hand-sanitizer sold by Boots for £1.55 is costing £24.99 for 40ml on Amazon.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) was first alerted by China on December 31, 2019 of “several pneumonia cases” and by March 6 nearly 100,000 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded globally with almost 3,500 deaths, tweeted Al Jazeera.