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Coronavirus: Public gatherings could be restricted as government set to move to ‘delay phase’

PUBLISHED: 06:53 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 07:59 12 March 2020

People in high risk groups have been told to self isolate for at least 12 weeks. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

People in high risk groups have been told to self isolate for at least 12 weeks. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

Public gatherings could be restricted and more people urged to stay at home by the government after the coronavirus was officially declared a global pandemic by world health bosses.

Prime minister Boris Johnson will today chair an emergency Cobra meeting at Downing Street where ministers will discuss whether to shift its response to the disease from the 'containment' phase to the 'delay' phase.

If this is carried out it would see more stringent social distancing measures introduced, such as restricting public gatherings and wider spread advice for people to self-isolate.

It comes after eight people with Covid-19 were confirmed to have died in the United Kingdom and the national total number of positive cases rose to 460. Norfolk, however, is yet to have its first case confirmed.

Despite this, the impact of the outbreak is already talking its toll in the county, with businesses, schools and public bodies already taking measures to combat the outbreak.

A number of schools have cancelled trips abroad, live music venues have reported major downturns in ticket sales and members of the public have taken to stock-piling items from supermarkets such as dried pasta and toilet paper.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday that the number of cases outside China has increased 13-fold in the past two weeks, and the number of affected countries has tripled.

He said individual countries could still change the course of the virus through their actions, but said the agency expected the number of deaths and affected countries to climb higher.

'WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,' he said.

'We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.'

Official figures show that 460 people in the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus, with the largest day-on-day jump recorded, and cases more than doubling in just four days.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs on Wednesday evening an emergency bill is to be put before the Commons next week on measures to tackle coronavirus.

Yesterday, Norwich City Football Club issued a statement advising fans that the club's Premier League clash with Southampton at the weekend is still scheduled to go ahead, also providing hygiene advice to supporters heading to the game.

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