Once again, Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to the TV studios to update the public on the response to the coronavirus outbreak. The UK has now seen 1,140 people testing positive for the virus, including the Health Minister Nadine Dorries, and the number of related deaths has risen to 21. Hancock told Sophy Ridge that the government, with input from the opposition, was due to set out its plans for emergency powers next week:
SR: Is the government going to be banning gatherings of over 500 people?
MH: …I’m absolutely prepared to take actions like that if that’s what necessary.
Over 70s may be asked to self-isolate for 4 months
People aged 70 and above are known to be particularly affected by exposure to the coronavirus, alongside those with existing health conditions. Ridge asked Hancock about the government’s request for those vulnerable to the virus to ‘shield’ themselves by self-isolating for an extended period of time, potentially as long as 4 months:
MH: We are not saying that yet… We’ll be setting it out with more detail when that is the right time to do so, because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask…
SR: Are we talking about [this being] days, weeks away?
MH: Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely.