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The waiting game

Mildly sick people should stay home as coronavirus public risk set to ‘high’

Anyone with a fever or a new cough should self-isolate for seven days to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Government has said.

This was the key message in a press conference hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this evening, during which he stopped short of advising any home working; school closures or bans on mass gatherings at this stage.

However, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said there should be a ban on sporting events and mass gatherings of over 500 people from next week. 

The Government has also updated the risk level to the UK public from moderate to high, as 590 people have been diagnosed and 10 people have died.

But the real number of cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK is likely between 5,000-10,000, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said. 

He said: 'Currently we are on a trajectory which looks as though we are four weeks or so behind Italy and some other countries in Europe...'

'There are currently 590 cases that have been identified in the UK and there are more than 20 patients on intensive care units.

'If you calculate what that really means, in terms of the total number, it is much more likely that we have got somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected at the moment.'

As the UK moves from a 'contain' to a 'delay' face for the spread of the virus, Mr Johnson said there would be 'more to say shortly' about the 'timing of further action'.

He added: 'At all stages, we have been guided by the science, and we will do the right thing at the right time.'

Regarding the new advice on mild symptoms, the Prime Minister said: 'I urge people who think in view of what we're saying about their potential symptoms that they should stay at home.

'I urge them not to call 111 but to use the internet for information if they can.'

At the same press conference, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said the NHS would now 'pivot all the testing capacity to identifying people in hospital’ rather than mild cases in the community. 

Testing will also be irrespective of travel history, only based on symptoms and severity.

What to do if you have symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature of 37.8C or above
  • a new continuous cough

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

The NHS will not be testing those self-isolating with mild symptoms.

Source: UK Government


Readers' comments (11)

  • I suggest you curfew anything that disables the immune system - immediately! i.e. bars/clubs/pubs/concerts. This is also about wellbeing and resilience in the community - people are still getting plastered, blocking A+E beds and spreading their viruses in tubes/taxis/buses. This is frankly an unnaccepatblae public health approach of dilly dally "5 day test match cricket". China would have commanded our country forward, not sideways.

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  • I wonder how you define "new continuous cough"

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  • What about GPs with these symptoms!Are we allowed 7 days leave, especially when our service is that depleted that even 1 clinician off will mean having to much reduce our service or close it.Where are our guidelines.As we know we get ill we carry on working?

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  • And what about febrile babies/children?

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  • well clearly febrile babies and children should not go to work, and if under 6 years of age should not call 111 or NHSDirect, but if able can get a self-certificate sick note off the internet.

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  • We'll cough our way through this

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  • I have to say the level of guidance is a joke. The primary care guidance has not been updated since the new policy of isolate new viral symptoms was introduced. 111 flow chart going through as a patient suggests new policy is self isolate, patient to phone 111 if deteriorating, 999 if very unwell. Appears to apply to all ages including children & nursing home residents. Is there any update to health professionals advice or community services corona advice pages? Of course not! Is there anything in my account updating me? Of course not!

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  • We seem to be operating an infection control protocol as a public health policy without much evidence of outcomes. We need more information from China regarding disease rates. If it turns out that the disease is now endemic in the population, but there is good herd immunity and a falling cross-infection rate, then we should figure out how to get to the same scenario ourselves. For example it might be better for the healthy population to carry on as normal, with no special hygiene precautions, and for the vulnerable to reduce social contact, and be supported by the community in this. Once the population has got good herd immunity then the vulnerable could get back to normal behaviour as well.

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  • Patrufinito | Manager12 Mar 2020 5:43pm
    China would have commanded our country forward, not sideways.

    - I'm sorry, do you mean to say China would do a better job?? Explain yourself, before I have a go at China :)

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  • So - this change in advice was given yesterday afternoon - and I was kind of hoping i would come in to a raft of e mails offering advice to me as to how we respond to patients. Not a jot however. Everything I know is from the BBC website, or from the patient info on the NHS website. Nothing official at all for professionals.

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