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  1. ITV Report

Covid-19 outbreak could see people with cold or flu symptoms asked to stay home

A press conference was held at 10 Downing Street Photo: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

Britons with “minor” cold, flu or fever symptoms could soon to be asked to stay at home in self-isolation in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, while new Government advice has warned against all but essential travel to Italy.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty pointed to tighter measures aimed at protecting the public, particularly the vulnerable and elderly, which could be implemented in the next 10 to 14 days.

It came as the Government tightened travel restrictions on coronavirus-stricken Italy following the announcement that Italian authorities were to extend quarantine measures to the whole country.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) amended its advice to warn against all but essential travel to the country on Monday evening, while the number of dead in Italy rose to 463.

As of 9am on Monday, 319 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, up from 273 at the same point on Sunday, and five people have died in British hospitals.

The latest patient, who died at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, south London, was in their seventies and was unwell with a number of significant and long-term health conditions.

During a Downing Street press conference on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the UK will almost certainly move to the delay phase of tackling coronavirus.

Prof Whitty said the balance would tip so that more and more people would suffer coronavirus rather than regular seasonal flu or other respiratory infections.

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He added: “We are expecting the numbers to increase initially quite slowly but really quite fast after a while and we have to catch it before the upswing begins.

“We are now very close to the time, probably within the next 10 to 14 days, when the modelling would imply we should move to a situation where everybody with even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever should be self-isolating for a period of seven days.”

Mr Johnson said that although the UK currently remains in the contain phase of the response, “extensive preparations” are being made for a move to the delay phase – which seeks to put off the peak of the outbreak until summer.

Meanwhile, official NHS guidance is to be displayed at the top of internet search results as part of measures to stop the spread of disinformation around the outbreak.

Credit: PA Graphics

As part of a new range of features for internet platforms, the health service said it had worked with Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on ways to help promote “good advice” when people were searching online for information.

In developments on how the virus is behaving, experts have said people infected with Covid-19 could go five days without showing any symptoms.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated the average incubation period of the virus to be 5.1 days.

Another study found that being older, showing signs of sepsis and having blood clots were key factors associated with a higher risk of death.

The research, published by The Lancet, examined 191 patients with confirmed Covid-19 at two hospitals in Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak.

Elsewhere:

– The FCO said US authorities are planning a flight on Tuesday to repatriate British nationals on the Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland, California

– The University of Oxford confirmed a second student had tested positive for Covid-19

– Updated guidance for pregnancy advised expectant mothers with suspected or confirmed coronavirus to attend an obstetric unit for birth

Credit: PA Graphics

– The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the hours which deliveries can be made to supermarkets and other food retailers will be extended to help the industry respond

–  Independent London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart criticised the Government’s “half-hearted measures” in response to the outbreak

– Tedros Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), told reporters the global spread of Covid-19 made a pandemic threat “very real”

– Aintree University Hospital said it remained open although a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a holiday in Italy

– The France vs Ireland Six Nations rugby match due to be held in Paris on Saturday was postponed on the advice of national authorities

– All St Patrick’s Day parades in the Republic of Ireland are to be cancelled in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.