Visitors can be reassured that the UK Government is closely monitoring the situation
On 3rd March 2020, the UK Government issued an action plan. It is a good source of information about the disease and the phased approach that the Government will implement if and when the disease becomes established in the UK. Essentially the three phases are:
- Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible
- Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season
- Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.
These phases will be unpinned by ongoing research to better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care.
As of today (12/3/19) the UK is in the “Delay” phase
The document sets out the next steps in general would be if we go to Delay phase and it is worth noting that this phase could include:
- A possible delay strategy could be used to move the peak of the outbreak to warmer months so that it does not overlap with normal flu and allows more time for research
- There are plans ready for a range of outcomes, from mild pandemic with low impact on services (like Swine Flu in 2009) through to severe and prolonged pandemic
- There are plans for the Ministry of Defence to provide support to Civilian Authorities if requested
- If the disease becomes established in the UK, further measures to be considered include school closures, home working and reducing large-scale gatherings
- Police would concentrate on serious crimes and maintaining public order if a lot of officers are on sick leave, in the case of the disease being fully established
- There could well be an increase in deaths, particularly amongst the vulnerable and elderly
- Concessions may be made by tax officials if businesses struggle to pay tax bills
- Some non-urgent care in the NHS may be delayed to focus on treating coronavirus patients.
- Recently retired staff may be called back
Read the UK Government Action Plan here