National coronavirus plan: What are the key points?

  • Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

The prime minister has outlined the Government's "battle plan" to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

A fifth of workers could be off sick at the peak of a coronavirus epidemic, police could drop low-priority cases and some non-urgent hospital care could be delayed.

Here are the key points the Government is considering to implement if the outbreak worsens.

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  • If police lose “significant staff” numbers to illness, they would “concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order”.

  • In a “stretching scenario”, it is possible that up to one fifth of employees may be absent from work during peak weeks.

  • Everyone will face increased pressures at work, as well as potentially their own illness and caring responsibilities. Supporting staff welfare “will be critical” for businesses.

  • The UK has stockpiles of medicines for the NHS, plus protective clothing and equipment for medical staff.

Everyone is susceptible to catching the virus. Credit: PA
  • The public can help delay the spread of the virus by washing hands with soap regularly, not spreading misinformation and relying on trusted sources. They should also ensure family vaccines are up to date and check on family, friends and neighbours. They should also check Foreign Office advice before travelling abroad and be understanding of the pressures the health service is under.

  • The public will be asked to accept “the advice for managing Covid-19 for most people will be self-isolation at home and simple over the counter medicines”.

  • If coronavirus becomes established, there will be a focus on essential services and helping those “most at risk to access the right treatment”.

  • During the mitigation phase, when the virus is much more widespread, “pressures on services and wider society may become significant and clearly noticeable”.

Government departments will have a lead person for coronavirus. Credit: PA
  • The Ministry of Defence will provide support as needed, including to essential services.

  • There will be increased Government communication with Parliament, the public and the media if the virus becomes more widespread.

  • All Government departments to have a lead person for coronavirus.

  • If the virus takes hold, social distancing strategies could include school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large scale gatherings and closing other educational settings.

  • It is possible that an outbreak or pandemic of Covid-19 could come in multiple waves.

Hospital retirees could be called 'back to duty.' Credit: PA
  • Non-urgent operations and other procedures could be cancelled, and hospital discharges monitored to free-up beds, with appropriate care in people’s homes.

  • Hospital worker shifts could be altered and leavers or retirees called “back to duty”.

  • Measures exist to help businesses with short-term cash flow problems.

  • There is a distribution strategy for sending out key medicines and equipment to NHS and social care.

  • This strain of coronavirus is new and people have a lack of immunity to it, meaning “Covid-19 has the potential to spread extensively”.

  • Everyone is susceptible to catching the disease and thus it is “more likely than not that the UK will be significantly affected”.

  • There could be an “increase in deaths arising from the outbreak, particularly among vulnerable and elderly groups”.

  • While most people will suffer mild to moderate symptoms, similar to seasonal flu, some will need hospital care due to pneumonia developing.

  • Young children can become infected and “suffer severe illness”, but overall the illness is less common in the under-20s.