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Coronavirus: People with ‘minor’ cold symptoms could be asked to stay at home

PUBLISHED: 07:41 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:16 10 March 2020

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Witty speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street, in London, on the government's coronavirus action plan on Monday March 9, 2020. Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Witty speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street, in London, on the government's coronavirus action plan on Monday March 9, 2020. Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

People with “minor” cold, flu or fever symptoms could soon to be asked to stay at home in self-isolation in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (right) and Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty (left) arrive at the Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, for a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra to discuss coronavirus on Monday March 9, 2020. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireHealth Secretary Matt Hancock (right) and Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty (left) arrive at the Cabinet Office, Whitehall, London, for a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra to discuss coronavirus on Monday March 9, 2020. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty pointed to tighter measures aimed at protecting the public, particularly the vulnerable and elderly, which could be implemented in the next 10 to 14 days.

It came as the Government tightened travel restrictions on coronavirus-stricken Italy following the announcement that Italian authorities were to extend quarantine measures to the whole country.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) amended its advice to warn against all but essential travel to the country on Monday evening, while the number of dead in Italy rose to 463.

MORE: Suffolk coronavirus patient recently returned from Italy, officials confirm

As of 9am yesterday (March 9), 319 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, up from 273 at the same point on Sunday, in the East of England the number of confirmed cases rose by one to 24, none of which are in Norfolk.

Five people have died from the virus in British hospitals.

The latest patient, who died at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, south London, was in their seventies and was unwell with a number of significant and long-term health conditions.

During a Downing Street press conference on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the UK will almost certainly move to the delay phase of tackling coronavirus.

Prof Whitty said the balance would tip so that more and more people would suffer coronavirus rather than regular seasonal flu or other respiratory infections.

MORE: What restrictions are supermarkets putting on goods amid coronavirus panic buying?

He added: 'We are expecting the numbers to increase initially quite slowly but really quite fast after a while and we have to catch it before the upswing begins.

'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 everybody with even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever should be self-isolating for a period of seven days.'

Mr Johnson said that although the UK currently remains in the contain phase of the response, 'extensive preparations' are being made for a move to the delay phase - which seeks to put off the peak of the outbreak until summer.

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