Off-licences to stay open during lockdown as they’re deemed ‘essential’

Off-licences, public loos and credit unions will stay open after being added to the list of "essential shops" during the coronavirus shutdown.

The updated list clarifies which businesses can stay open after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the shutdown of "non-essential" stores in the UK in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Other shops and stores that will stay open include cash points, car rental services, banks and post offices.

Boris Johnson had already announced that supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents were allowed to stay open as they are classed as essential.

The PM announced to the nation this week that residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for shopping for basic necessities — and that these should be kept as infrequent as possible.

He said: "You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

The lockdown has also seen the closure of libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Mr Johnson has said people can now only go outside for shopping, one form of exercise a day, for a medical need, or to travel to or from work.

The government has however encouraged online shopping, retailers will still stay open for online orders and that people can still have items delivered to their homes.

Although, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's are among the supermarkets whose websites have crashed since the lockdown announcement due to an overload of shoppers.

Sainsbury's introduced a new delivery policy on Monday to ensure the elderly and most vulnerable are given priority.

Many supermarkets are taking steps to ensure the most vulnerable have access to essentials.

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Coronavirus: ‘Unless we follow the new rules, people will die’

Boris Johnson announced earlier tonight that he is bringing in strict new measures in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Social distancing is set to become law, with the police able to break up gatherings of more than two people and all public events except funerals cancelled.

But it is believed the draconian measures, which will be reviewed in three weeks' time, will help slow the spread of Covid-19 and ease the growing pressures on the NHS.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister is right to call for people to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives."

  • UK coronavirus lockdown: 11 rules explained as PM urges Brits to 'stay at home'

He added: "This is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, and one we have been calling for.

"There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close – and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders.

"We welcome these moves and will be working to ensure everybody has the protection and security they need."

And Labour's Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a video posted to Twitter: "I want to speak directly to Londoners: these rules are not optional.

"These instructions have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus and must be followed at all times to save lives."

He added: "These unprecedented circumstances call for extraordinary measures. Unless we follow these rules, people will die."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said new coronavirus restrictions "amount to a lockdown".

"I am not going to sugarcoat it in any way," she said. "Coronavirus is the biggest challenge of our lifetime."

She said the new measures are "not done lightly".

"Stay at home," she said. "That is the message I gave yesterday and I am reinforcing that message now."

The Liberal Democrats added: "Many people will be anxious about the steps the government has taken, but it's the right decision to restrict our normal way of life to tackle this crisis.

"We urge people to play their part #StayAtHomeSaveLives."

While Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage struck a more downbeat tone, saying: "So we are to be locked down – and a new testing regime will begin.

"Will the planes keep coming from Milan, Tehran and Beijing?

"I expect so. It's all too late."

And the government's Health Minister Nadine Dorries, who was the first MP to be diagnosed with coronavirus, tweeted: "Please do as the PM asks. This is about saving peoples' lives.

"There is nothing more important. The PM mentioned the police.

"We really don't want to go there. Please, please, #StayAtHomeSaveLives."

A call that was echoed by former chancellor Sajid Javid, who famously quit government earlier this year in a row with Boris Johnson.

He said: "This could not be more serious. Please stay at home to save lives."

And Mr Javid wasn't the only former political rival to support the PM.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who previously criticised the speed of the Government's efforts to shut down the movement of people, tweeted: "This is absolutely the right decision by @BorisJohnson.

"It takes 2-3 weeks before these measures likely to feed into the rate of new infections but at last we have hope the tide will now start to turn. Massively ramping up testing is the next vital step."

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley also took to social media to react.

He tweeted: "Not soon enough but a welcome announcement from the Prime Minister.

"More guidance is now needed on the detail and should be provided quickly for the many people who are fearful and will have
questions about the way this applies to their own situations – as well as on enforcement."

Not everyone was impressed with the Prime Minister's decision.

Labour MP Neil Coyle tweeted: "If there's no support for self-employed people and no penalties for employers insisting workers come in, Johnson's announcement is insufficient to ensure compliance.

"He's acted late and the broadcast also sadly seemed like an apology for the ensuing NHS crisis in advance."

Labour's shadow security minister Nick Thomas-Symonds also raised concerns over mental health aspects of the Coronavirus Bill – including a person being detained on the say-so of a single doctor.

He described this as a "significant change" while Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell intervened to ask: "Is he also saying once the immediate crisis is over, anyone who has been sectioned under that regime should be immediately the subject of the existing regime?"

Mr Thomas-Symonds replied: "Yes, absolutely."

Labour former minister Kevan Jones said he understood the pressures on doctors and suggested having one sign it off but with a requirement for a second to review the case within a certain number of days.

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Coronavirus plan to stop you touching your face being used by Government

Coronavirus is a highly infectious virus that can affect your lungs and airways.

In order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease, the Government is advising people to stay inside and work from home.

One of the main ways the Government is hoping to limit the spread of the disease is by encouraging people to wash their hands and not touch their face.

The Government was heavily using “nudge theory” to get us to do the “right thing” by making it easier, more normal and more obvious.

The NHS also says “do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean”.

As many will have experienced, this is easier said than done, as the average person touches their face 16 times an hour.

Now the enforcement has become increasingly stricter – with school, pubs and restaurant closures.

The Government is still “nudging” the public to practice social distancing, although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned stricter measures could be implemented.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), also known as the nudge unit, a company part-owned by the Cabinet Office, is advising ministers on how best to implement the nudges.

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BIT has also come up with some ideas on how to stop you touching your face.

Simply telling someone not to touch their face won’t work.

If someone knowingly touches their face because of an itch or ache, BIT encourages substitute behaviours as an effective measure.

For example, substitute your fingers for the back of their wrist or arm, which is less exposed to infection.

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Meanwhile an unprompted touch of the face happens when someone is engaged in a separate activity.

The guidelines suggests a family member could say “face” or similar every time they touch their face.

This kind of social reinforcement may act as an intervention in itself, says BIT.

Cynthia McVey, former head of psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University told BBC: “Even if you’re very concerned about coronavirus, it’s very difficult to stop doing something like face-touching because it’s such a habit.

“There have been reports of people who are worried enough to wear masks who have still removed them so they can rub their nose.”

The nudge theory, which is already used by governments, aims to install better habits in the population.

This means changing social norms, rather than giving explicit “top-down” advice.

If enough people do something, you will feel a sense of missing out, or maybe guilt, if you don’t do the same.

Nudge theory has also been used to advise people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, and sneeze into your sleeves if tissues aren’t available.

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Top doctors call for complete London lockdown as coronavirus death toll surges

A gang of top doctors have called on Boris Johnson to put Britain in a full coronavirus lockdown.

The medics claimed that Britain is losing a "very small window of opportunity" to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the death toll reached 233.

Doctors Julian Peto, Nisreen Alwan, David McCoy, Helen Ward, Martin McKee and Elio Riboli, reached out to the Prime Minister in a letter to The Times.

They said: "Sir, the UK is losing a very small window of opportunity to minimise the disease burden from Covid-19 and prevent a health system collapse.

"We recognise the severe constraints on capacity for testing but, while that is being addressed, the government must implement social distancing, extensive case finding and contact tracing to reduce community spread to give time for the health system to prepare and cope."

They continued: "Hence we urge the government to enforce restrictions on movement between and within areas with high and low rates of infection, such as London while ensuring that the most vulnerable in society are supported."

Their open letter comes as the death toll in the UK rocketed after 56 patients died in one day bringing the total number to 233.

  • Coronavirus UK death toll hits 233 as COVID-19 virus claims 53 lives in 24 hours

It's believed that a 41-year-old is the youngest COVID-19 victim in Britain since the outbreak – with the total number of confirmed cases being 5,018.

Victims in England are all said to have had underlying health issues, with the oldest patient being 94.

In Wales, the death toll has risen to five with seven in Scotland and Northern Ireland with one fatality.

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Environment Secretary George Eustice slammed people who were panic buying, telling them to "calm down".

Boris Johnson recently ordered all pubs, clubs, bars, cinemas and leisure centres to close in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Transport for London also announced they will be running a reduced service with partial closures.

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Britain will beat coronavirus in 12 weeks, says Boris Johnson

Britain will "turn the tide" on coronavirus in the next 12 weeks, the Prime Minister says.

Boris Johnson has been reluctant to put any kind of time frame on the pandemic, but said at a press conference on Thursday that he expects the UK to get a grip on the virus by June.

"I want us to get on top of it," he told media, and acknowledged that the virus doesn't yet seem to be responding to the interventions put in place by the British government.

He says better and more widespread testing will enable us to get on top of coronavirus in the next three months. An effective antibody test that can identify whether someone has had the virus is currently in development, and Johnson says the government will buy "literally hundreds of thousands" of the tests as soon as they become available.

Live updates on COVID-19 cases near you

England: 2,182

  • London: 953
  • South East: 285
  • Midlands: 234
  • North East and Yorkshire: 168
  • North West: 180
  • East of England: 128
  • South West: 117

Scotland: 227

Wales: 149

Northern Ireland: 68

He said he can't promise that life in the UK will have returned to normal by June, but says it's "possible" we'll be on the downward slope by then".

"We don't know how long this thing will go for, but we do know it is finite and we will turn the tide," he said.

It's vital that all Brits follow medical advice and practice social distancing and self-isolation in order for coronavirus to be defeated.

"It will make a huge, huge difference if we all do it together," Johnson said.

He expects the "curve to come down" as testing is rolled out further, referring to the medical practice of "flattening the curve" of transmitted cases.

Johnson also advised businesses to think carefully before laying off staff and to keep the temporary nature of the coronavirus in mind.

  • Coronavirus
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London coronavirus lockdown by weekend as army enters ‘city of super spreaders’

Embattled Brits will be forced into lockdown in the nation's capital by this weekend as officials label London a "city of superspreaders" and emergency legislation to tackle the coronavirus outbreak is published in Parliament.

In an unprecedented move in peacetime, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the closure of schools, non-essential public could be banned and 20,000 soldiers are readied to move into the capital.

Up to 40 underground stations will be closed and the Government is not ruling out forcing London residents to require paperwork to travel.

The draconian measures come as the Queen fled London for Windsor where she will self-isolate to avoid catching the killer bug, which has led to the deaths of 35 Londoners – higher than anywhere in the country.

A third of Britain's confirmed coronavirus cases are in the city – though the number is more likely to be in the tens of thousands.

After closing schools and cancelling exams,  Boris Johnson  has refused to rule out further draconian measures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will table the Emergency Coronavirus Bill setting out measures aimed at slowing the spread and supporting the NHS and workers in the Commons today. It could see restaurants, bars, pubs, cinemas and more closed across the city turning it into a ghost town.

Official figures from Public Health England show 953 cases recorded in London compared to a total across the UK of 2,626.

The legislation will be presented as the Army prepares to deploy 20,000 troops to enforce new laws and the crisis has prompted the Queen to leave London for Windsor.

The Cabinet Office has written to departments asking for recommendations about restrictions, how they could be implemented and how to ensure “compliance”.

Boris Johnson had admitted last night "further and faster measures" may be needed after coming under fire for initially pushing for "business as usual" when the first cases hit the UK.

Whitehall sources yesterday said lockdown-style measures in London – which the Prime Minister admitted is "a few weeks ahead" of the rest of the country – are "imminent".

It is currently unclear whether Londoners will be able to continue travelling via cars and bikes, however.

Emergency laws to be introduced to Parliament tomorrow will include powers to "close premises" and "restrict or prohibit events and gatherings" anywhere in the UK, if the government chooses to.

The Coronavirus Bill will also allow the government to limit activity in "any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft".

It is estimated one in seven people in London work in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector, and with the expected closures, as well as grounding of aeroplanes, such steps could leave thousands without jobs.

The Telegraph  reports the Government is not ruling out forcing London residents to require paperwork to travel.

So far, 104 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK and tens of thousands of people are thought to be infected.

Schools across the UK were preparing to close to all pupils except those of key workers in a bid to halt the disease's spread.

English schools will shut their gates on Friday until further notice, as will nurseries, colleges and childminders.

GCSEs and A-levels in both England and Wales will be cancelled – although the Prime Minister said there are plans for students to receive qualifications.

In Scotland and Wales, all schools will close for an early Easter break by Friday. A decision on whether exams will sit in Scotland has not yet been taken.

Schools in Northern Ireland will shut and it is expected pupils will not sit summer exams.

Mr Johnson said measures taken so far were helping to slow the spread of the disease, but he did not rule out tougher measures being enforced down the line.

The PM also did not rule out stricter controls being imposed on London ahead of the rest of the nation, with fears of a lockdown being imposed like in other nations.

Transport for London (TfL) announced up to 40 Tube stations would be closed on Thursday and a reduced service would run on the rails from Friday to enable the city's critical workers to make essential journeys – with no Waterloo & City line from Friday.

Until further notice, on Friday and Saturday nights there will be no all-night 'Night Tube' service or the all-night 'Night Overground' service that currently runs on the East London line – though late Tube and Overground services will continue for essential journeys.

London buses, meanwhile, will operate fewer services, but TfL's extensive night bus network will continue to provide critical workers with a reliable night option on Friday and Saturday nights and throughout the week.

Everyone is urged not to use public transport for anything other than essential journeys.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned Londoners they should not be travelling unless they "really, really have to", but insisted the network must remain open to aid frontline health workers.

He said: "Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary, and that means they should be avoiding using the transport network unless absolutely necessary.

"London will get through these extraordinarily challenging times, and ensuring the capital's critical workers can move around the city will be crucial.

"Frontline staff across our health and care service – as well as those ensuring Londoners stay safe and can access food and other essentials – should be commended for their hard work.

"We owe it to them to do whatever we can to help them do their jobs effectively.

"I'm urging Londoners to only use public transport for essential journeys. Everyone should follow this and the other advice to help keep themselves and each other safe."

Meanwhile, the number of troops in a heightened state of readiness will be doubled to 20,000 while Reserves were to be placed on standby to support public services in a new "Covid support force".

The Ministry of Defence was also planning to put 150 military personnel into training to drive oxygen tankers around the country to support the NHS.

Mr Hancock's emergency legislation will also include plans to hand police powers to arrest and isolate people to protect public health but will be time-limited for two years.

Labour is not expected to force a vote on the legislation, allowing it to pass through Parliament swiftly with some MPs in self-isolation and concerns about others gathering in the House.

But leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote a list of conditions to the PM which he said would need to be considered to gain public support.

Mr Corbyn said the legislation must be renewed by a fresh vote in Parliament every six months in order to prevent too much power being handed to the Government.

He also said rent suspension must be introduced, called for the ban on evictions to last six months and for jobs and incomes to receive greater protection.

Some hospitals have begun stopping all non-essential visits to patients, while the FTSE 100 continued its downward slump as the financial impact of the crisis failed to cease.

The cultural impact also continued, with filming on EastEnders and BBC Studios dramas including Casualty, Doctors, Holby City, Pobol y Cwm and River City was postponed.

However, there was a glimmer of hope in a day of bleak developments when the PM hailed a "game-changer" test was "coming down the track."

It would test for antibodies to the virus and be able to tell if someone has been infected and recovered, allowing them to return to work.

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Boris Johnson says coronavirus school closure decision ‘imminent’

Boris Johnson has said a decision on closing schools is “imminent” as Britain braces for a coronavirus lockdown.

He told MPs: "The House should expect decisions to be taken imminently on schools."

Last night the PM hinted they could close after 650k signed a petition urging him to keep kids at home.

He said: "I understand completely where people are at with that, we're keeping it under continuous review."

Today the Welsh government promised to close all schools by 20 March, while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was "likely" she would be forced to take the same decision this week.

  • NHS nurse 'declined all care' after coronavirus symptoms wakes up to son having seizure

Earlier this week it emerged that the government’s initial plan to control the virus could have resulted in 250,000 people dying, the researchers said.

A study revealed this approach would "likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over".

Coronavirus in Britain – latest figures

Disease expert Neil Ferguson earlier said the UK was three weeks behind Italy and two weeks behind France and Spain in terms of the virus’s spread.

His study warned: "We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound."

The government yesterday announced the death toll had reached 71 in the UK, with two new fatalities confirmed in Milton Keynes this morning.

  • Coronavirus
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Boris Johnson faces first Tory revolt since the election in Parliament tonight

Boris Johnson faces his Tory rebellion since the general election tonight over Chinese phone giant Huawei.

At least 26 Conservative MPs have signed a shock move calling for the firm – which critics brand a tool of the Chinese state – to be banned from the UK's 5G network from 1 January 2023.

If at least 40 Tory MPs back the amendment in Parliament at 7pm tonight, it could spell Boris Johnson's first House of Commons defeat since his thumping 80-seat election victory in December.

Or the Tory leader might be forced to back down to save face with the rebels – who include former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex-Cabinet ministers Damian Green and David Davis.

A defeat would scupper the Prime Minister's bid to let "high-risk vendor" Huawei run up to 35% of the UK's super-fast 5G network, which the Tories vowed to build as a key election pledge.

After months of debate ministers gave Huawei – which denies being a tool of the Chinese state – a limited role in building the UK's phone infrastructure back in January.

Scroll down for the full list of Tory rebels


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The firm can provide parts for up to 35% of the total network and will not be allowed to control the technology's roll out entirely in any city. The company is also to be excluded from safety-critical networks in critical infrastructure and from the network in sensitive locations.

But Tory MPs warned the decision would be "nesting a dragon" and it infuriated the US – with Donald Trump allegedly flying into an "apoplectic rage" in a phone call with Boris Johnson .

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded China's communist party “the central threat of our times” saying: “It’s not about a technical back door. They have the front door.”

Warning the 5G deal was a "risk", he added: “We will never permit American National Security information to go across a network we do not have trust and confidence in."

The Sun reports today's amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill was published despite 11th-hour talks with Downing Street to head off a Tory rebellion.

The MPs' amendment would ban any vendors deemed "high-risk" by the National Cyber Security Centre from being used by the UK's mobile network operator.

One rebel admitted they might not have the 40 MPs needed to defeat the government. They told The Sun: "We might lose this vote, but the momentum is on our side”.

Another rebel, former Army intelligence officer Bob Seely, told the newspaper: "We are talking to the government, because we all want the best outcome for our country."

“But what we must hear from it is a timetable to get high risk tech out of our system so we can protect our people. It’s got to be no way Huawei.”

The PM’s official spokesman said: “We are clear-eyed about the challenge posed by Huawei. Its market share is kept under review."

“We have said we want to reduce the share as market diversification takes place. We need to see how quickly the market is able to diversify.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith

Bob Seely

Mr Owen Paterson

Tom Tugendhat

Mr David Davis

Damian Green

Damian Collins

Sir Graham Brady

Anne Marie Morris

Sir Christopher Chope

Craig Mackinlay

Mr William Wragg

Julian Knight

David Morris

Jack Lopresti

Anthony Mangnall

Henry Smith

Tim Loughton

Richard Drax

Sir Robert Syms

Mr David Jones

Mrs Sheryll Murray

Dr James Davies

Fiona Bruce

Mr Mark Francois

David Warburton

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‘Boris Johnson is lying by the seat of his pants and Carrie is a human shield’

Six, seven, eight… 21? The number of children Boris Johnson has fathered in and out of wedlock might not really matter if the cynical liar wasn’t forever playing fast and loose with the truth.

His 40 new hospitals are really six, while his 50,000 more nurses are only 31,000.

The £350million- a-week extra for the NHS myth clinched Brexit but was a fiction that came from a dishonest over-fertile imagination.

Third wife-to-be Carrie Symonds is a useful human shield, as No10 announced her pregnancy and looming nuptials to deflect from the floods, coronavirus and the Priti Patel bullying crises.

The discarded first two Mrs Johnsons know what she is marrying but it is the lazily incompetent Prime Minister’s public performance which causes the gravest concern.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s “part-time Prime Minister” jibe has proved right, as Johnson could not be bothered to chair a Cobra session on the coronavirus until today.

Downing Street’s frantic insistence that the boss likes to delegate is a transparent excuse rather than a reasonable explanation.

When there’s credit, Johnson grabs it. Where there’s a problem, he vanishes. The Johnson joke is on the voters who the charlatan now takes for granted, including those in the blue brick Tory seats in Labour’s red wall.

But playing the fool isn’t funny when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. Imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe might have spent last night at home with her husband and her daughter had Johnson thought before opening his mouth as Foreign Secretary.

David Cameron’s former aide Kate Fall recalls Johnson arriving in No10 with a nine-point plan to win a second term as London mayor but remembering only three of his points. Disorganised as he was, Johnson won the capital’s poll.

The PM’s damaging slothfulness in a truly demanding position must give Labour encouragement.

Lies will catch up with politicians eventually – including the biggest baby of them all.

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Boris Johnson says coronavirus likely to ‘spread a bit more’ in the UK

Boris Johnson said he expects the new coronavirus to spread further inside Britain, following the announcement of another 12 positive tests today.

The prime minister said he believed the new coronavirus would spread further inside Britain, following the announcement of another 12 positive tests on Sunday.

"We've found about 35 people in this country have, or have had, the illness and clearly there may be more. That is likely now to spread a bit more," Johnson said during a visit to a public health facility in London.

He went on to say that he was "very, very confident" that the NHS is able to cope with an outbreak of coronavirus.

"As you know, we've found about 35 people in this country who have, or have had, the illness," Boris Johnson said.

"And clearly there may be more, that's likely to spread a bit more, and it's vital therefore that people understand that we do have a great plan, a plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

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"And I am very, very confident that in the NHS we have the professionals who will be well able to cope with it."

Mr Johnson said the best way to stop the spread of the virus was hand washing, adding: "20 seconds, two times. Happy Birthday I'm told, with hot water and soap."

Talking about the Government's updated contingency plan, he said: "I think what we're saying is that we will be setting out the various measures, as the disease progresses, if it progresses in the way we think it may.

"We will be setting out the various measures in which we think the public should be responding, which public bodies should be responding, we'll be sending that out tomorrow, the next day.

"But the crucial thing is, as I say, the public does what it can, we all do what we can to stop the spread ourselves."

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It was announced shortly before 2pm today that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK had shot up.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said three of the patients were close contacts of a known Covid-19 case that was transmitted within the UK – believed to be a Surrey resident.

Another new patient, from Essex, has not recently travelled to an affected area, Prof Whitty said on Sunday.

He added investigations were ongoing as to whether the patient had contracted it "directly or indirectly" from an individual who had recently travelled abroad.

Of the eight remaining cases, six had recently travelled from Italy, while two had been in Iran.

These patients are from London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire.

One of the confirmed cases is in Bury, according to Bury Council, which said the patient had been taken to a specialist NHS infection centre.

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