The UK Government has announced that its strategy to delay the outbreak of the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus may involve asking "mildly sick" people to remain at home in self-isolation.
Professor Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical adviser, said that within the next 10 to 14 days, those showing even minor symptoms of respiratory tract infections, or those with a fever, may be asked to stay at home for at least seven days.
All ICU patients to be tested
As two more deaths were reported in the UK because of Covid-19, the NHS will now test all intensive care (ICU) patients in the UK for the virus, as well as anyone in hospital with a respiratory infection.
The most recent deaths were of people in their 70s with underlying health conditions. The elderly and vulnerable may also be asked to stay at home in the weeks ahead, as the virus spread across the UK.
He said that the closer the peak of the spread could be delayed until summer, "the better the NHS will be able to manage".
Italy's country-wide lockdown
The Foreign Office is now warning British residents against all but essential travel to Italy.
On Tuesday (10 Mar), Italian authorities also introduced a ban on public gatherings to the entire country and has enforced a country-wide quarantine affecting 60 million people. Anyone returning from Italy will now be told to self-isolate for 14 days, in line with the standard coronavirus protocol.
Italy is the worst affected country outside of China. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called this week "Italy's darkest hour", with the death toll increasing.
The UK government expects the outbreak will peak across United Kingdom within the next two weeks.
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Should I avoid public places?
Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111
NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS