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New Coronavirus rules and advice:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says a new phase has been entered and we now need to do more than just ‘wash our hands’. We must now avoid non essential contact and non essential travel – and it may be for a prolonged period. More than two weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says a new phase has been entered and we now need to do more than just ‘wash our hands’. We must now avoid non essential contact and non essential travel – and it may be for a prolonged period. More than two weeks. 

He said that we should now avoid ‘non-essential contact’ and he said the peak looks like it’s coming around Easter time and that some parts of the country will reach that peak before others. It seems, he said, that London is a few weeks ahead of the rest of the country.

We are, according to the chief medical officer, entering a fast growth period in terms of cases and these measures have two objectives – to delay the transmission of this across the country and to keep people safe. 

All Londoners should try to work from home and should avoid confined spaces including pubs, cinemas and restaurants. Also, to allow the NHS to cope particularly in London and any mass gatherings will now not be provided with emergency workers so that all NHS resources are going towards the people who need it the most. 

Another new measure is whole household isolation – if one person is showing symptoms then the whole household must isolate for 14 days. This allows for an incubation period for those other members of the household to see if they have caught the virus. 

For any individual person the chances of dying from this are very low. Some people will not get it, some will and won’t even now they have had it. Some will have milder symptoms easily managed at home. A small minority get significant disease requiring hospital care, some will need intensive care and some will pass away. At the moment this is less than one per cent.

Older people are at greater risk though it’s not a given that an older person will have it any worse than anyone else. However there is a trend of it being more risky for older people.  There are broadly three things to consider – direct deaths caused by the disease itself; a significant number of other deaths which if the NHS became overwhelmed would occur because they cannot get medical care; some of the measures themselves could have negative impacts on people’s health.

Non-essential contact does, the chief medical officer says, have the ability to pull down the peak so that is really critical – this protects the NHS from being overwhelmed. There are some groups that the NHS will be watching very carefully as they may be at higher risk:

  • Over 70s
  • Those with particular medical conditions.
  • Pregnant women. 

As for businesses, there were promises to help businesses find funding and giving them time to pay – no specific details about how to access that funding. The Prime Minister says it is going to have a severe blow on the economy and is not like 2008, there isn't a systemic problem here. We are trying to flatten the peak of the virus. It's a different category of difficulty from 2008. 

The CMO says sustainability is key here and two weeks is not the timeframe here. He says it's weeks and months and we're in it for the long haul. 

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