Government health bosses are planning to put entire cities in Wuhan-style lockdowns if the UK is hit by a mass coronavirus outbreak.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the bombshell admission as he was quizzed on his “battleplan” for a virus pandemic this morning.
When asked whether entire cities could be put in quarantine, he told Sky News: “There's clearly a huge economic and social downside to that but we don't take anything off the table at this stage.”
It comes as pensioners were urged to avoid crowds by the World Health Organisation amid new fears of a UK outbreak.
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NHS chiefs are also rationing hospital orders of protective equipment and face masks to try and prevent shortages, according to reports.
It is hoped the measures could delay coronavirus spreading in a bid to “push an outbreak into the summer when the NHS is under less pressure”.
The government’s emergency COBRA committee is expected to meet on Monday after the PM agreed to chair crisis talks.
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Downing Street fears a severe outbreak could trigger a massive economic fallout – as around £210billon was wiped off Britain's biggest companies this week.
Senior ministers could allow laws to be “suspended” including allowing schools to scrap maximum class sizes to cope with widespread staff sickness.
Mr Hancock hinted the Government could to a U-turn by banning flights from China if the outbreak gets worse.
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He added: “If we get to a position where this is much more widespread, then, of course, we will change the advice to deal with that,' he told Sky News.
“But at this stage, people should go about their ordinary business.
“There's a danger to doing things too early because they wouldn't be effective.
“At the moment the number of cases in this country is 23.
“And that means that so long as people are washing their hands and taking the precautions that are set out, that is the right thing to do.”
- World Health Organisation
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