Coronavirus: Schools could close and events may be cancelled after Boris Johnson's Cobra meeting
The Government will today step up its response to the coronavirus crisis, paving the way for home working, school closures and the cancellation of major events.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to rubber-stamp moving to the next stage of the UK's action plan when he chairs a Cobra meeting today.
It raises the prospect of school closures, bans on public gatherings - including major sporting events - home working and a scaling back of non-urgent hospital operations.
The move comes as US President Donald Trump banned all flights from mainland Europe to the States for a period of 30 days.
The prime minister will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee at lunchtime, and is expected to rubber-stamp a decision to move to from the 'contain' phase of the response to 'delay'.
It is not thought there will be immediate school closures or cancellations of events, but health secretary Matt Hancock hopes to pass legislation next week to enable those measures.
But the number of coronavirus patients in the UK rose by 87 to 460 on Wednesday, the biggest daily increase to date, and deaths in the UK rose to eight.
Norfolk County Council’s Public Health launched a campaign encouraging primary school children to wash their hands.
This new initiative was rolled across the county from today, while a similar message will be circulated to residents by the Norfolk Resilience Forum.
A new poster for the campaign features a "Soaper Hero".
Diane Steiner, deputy director of Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said: “While there’s a lot of hard work going on to be ready for the coronavirus, for most people the easy steps are still the best.
"Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face may sound basic, but they can have a huge impact on slowing the spread of the virus, limiting the number of cases and keeping cases at manageable levels. If you want to prepare for coronavirus, start with soap and water.
“We want to make sure that schools and communities in Norfolk have easy access to the latest advice and that it is presented in a way that they will find both engaging and accessible.”
Supermarkets have been selling out of products such as pasta, toilet roll and hand sanitiser as people stock up in response to the outbreak.
King's Lynn Town FC chairman Stephen Cleeve wrote in his programme notes ahead of Lynn's match against Bradford Park Avenue this week that limiting stadium capacity to 500 fans would be wrong.
Mr Cleeve wrote: "Clearly, coronavirus still makes the headlines and I am glad that there is no consensus that any league should be scrapped.
"Frankly it would be a disgrace if that happened and would show, if implemented, just how out of touch those who make big decisions are with most football fans.
"Limiting venues to 500 fans is also mad. My understanding is that everyone will probably get the virus so why prevent something you can't?
"You can only get the virus if you are within six feet of someone with the illness so moving everyone into the pub to watch games on TV will have exactly the same effect.
"I can understand that our senior citizens may want to keep themselves isolated until the disease passes."
Downham Market Town Council has released its own statement regarding the outbreak.
This states: “Downham Market Town Council are monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus and contingency plans are being put in place.
“In the meantime, please note, that as the Government says, there is no need to stockpile toilet roll, medicines or anything else.”
It also asked people not to excessively stockpile as there are vulnerable people within the community who are in need of the products.
Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has set up coronavirus pods in preparation for cases in West Norfolk.
Two pods are in place opposite the Inspire Centre.Anyone arriving at the QEH will see posters on the main entrance directing those concerned they may have the virus to go to the pods.
And one of West Norfolk's biggest employers, Bespak, has set out a number of precautionary measures including restricting international travel and extensive cleaning in communal areas.
To read about advice on employees' rights regarding the coronavirus, head to the link below: