Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Photo by CDC on Unsplash.
  • The UK is set to move into the next phase of its coronavirus action plan on Thursday which will entail greater "population distancing" measures.
  • Measures under consideration include advising people to stand apart from others and work from home where possible.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Thursday lunchtime chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee, where the official decision is expected to be taken.
  • The decision comes after the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 outbreak a 'pandemic'.
  • There are 465 confirmed cases of coronavirus in teh UK as of Thursday, with 8 people having died.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The UK government is preparing to tell the British public to begin adopting "social distancing" measures, including potentially advising against standing close to others and encouraging working from home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Thursday lunchtime chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee, where a Downing Street spokesman said it is expected that a decision will be made to move into the so-called "delay phase" of the UK's plan for tackling the virus.

Measures under consideration include population distancing-strategies such as school closures, encouraging more people to work from home and banning mass gatherings, according to the government's coronavirus action plan. The government could also advise people to stand further apart in public spaces, the Times reported.

Measures designed to protect elderly and vulnerable people will also be introduced. Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said this week that the UK was also close to introducing advice telling everyone with even a minor infection or cough to self-isolate for 7 days afterwards.

"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 we say everybody who has even a minor respiratory tract infection or a fever should be self-isolating for 7 days afterwards," he said at a press conference in Downing Street alongside Boris Johnson on Tuesday

The number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen to 456, with 8 people having died..

The new measures are expected to be announced after the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom, the organisation's director-general, said the decision to declare a pandemic had been taken after the number of cases outside China increased 13-fold. He said the WHO was "deeply concerned" by the "alarming levels of inaction" by governments across the world.

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

"We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," he added.

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