Over-70s to be asked to self-isolate for up to four months
PUBLISHED: 13:05 15 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:29 15 March 2020
Elderly people will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months, as the UK escalates its fight against coronavirus.
West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock said it is a 'very big ask', but it is a measure which is for their own 'self-protection'.
He also confirmed that ministers were seeking to give police powers to arrest and forcibly quarantine people who are sick with the virus but are not self-isolating.
'We are going to take the powers to make sure that we can quarantine people if they are a risk to public health, yes, and that's important,' he told the Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.
'I doubt that actually we will need to use it much, because people have been very responsible.'
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In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Mr Hancock said the steps are 'very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country'.
The gearing up of the Government's efforts comes as the UK's Covid-19 death toll rose on Saturday from 11 to 21, while the number of people testing positive for the disease passed the 1,000 mark.
Mr Hancock said that people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months, in order to protect them from the virus.
Asked if that was in the Government's plan, he told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: 'That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so, because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it's for their own self-protection.'
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Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: 'Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely.'
He said coronavirus is 'a very significant challenge' that will 'disrupt the lives of almost everybody' in the UK.
'The measures that we're taking, the measures that we're looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus,' he said.
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