The government has released its official action plan to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, warning people that 'we are all susceptible to catching this disease'.
During a press conference at Downing Street this morning, the Prime Minister told reporters that the government's plan involved four phases: 'contain, delay, research, mitigate'.
Boris Johnson said: 'Let me be absolutely clear that for the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover'.
However, he added: 'It is highly likely that we will see a growing number of UK cases'. There are currently 51 known cases across the UK.
The four phases involve:
- The contain phase: Health officials will attempt to 'detect and isolate' cases to try and stop the illness from spreading
- The delay phase: The aim of this phase of the plan is to 'slow the spread' of the virus so that the peak number of infections can be dealt with in the spring or summer, rather than the winter period when the NHS is traditionally under its greatest pressure
- The research phase: Health officials will look for new diagnostic tests and begin developing drugs to deal with the effects of the disease
- The mitigation phase: Should coronavirus become a prolonged pandemic, the government's response will move away from containment toward mitigating the impact of widespread sickness on wider society
James Forsyth, Katy Balls and Cindy Yu discuss the government's plan on today's edition of our Coffee House Shots podcast:
Should the government need to instigate the final phase of its response, the 'mitigation phase', the following actions may need to be taken:
- The police may have to be redeployed to deal with only the most serious crimes and maintaining public order
- Doctors and nurses could be brought out of retirement to help mitigate the enormous impact on the health service
- The government could enforce so-called 'population distancing strategies', shutting down schools and asking people to start working from home
You can read the full document below: