In the UK, five people with the coronavirus have died. There were 319 confirmed cases as of 09:00 GMT on Monday.
The new measures were set out as Boris Johnson called for a “national effort” to tackle the virus, insisting that the experts “know how to defeat it”. He said the government was making extensive preparations to move to the “delay” phase of dealing with it – but meanwhile the best advice was still simply for people to wash their hands.
Speaking at a press conference with the prime minister, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said thatPeople with symptoms as minor as coughs and colds could be asked to self-isolate within the next two weeks. He said these measures in a new phase where “we will be having to ask members of the general public to do different things than they would normally do”.
In other developments in the UK on Monday:
• The deaths of two more British people – both in their 70s with underlying conditions – were announced as the total number of infections grew to 319. A hospital worker at University Hospital Southampton tested positive for the virus, as did an office-based Transport for London worker.
• PHE said that the NHS would be brought in to ease the strain on its laboratories by helping to test samples from those displaying symptoms, doubling the number of tests that can be carried out each day from 2,000 to 4,000.
• The NHS set out plans to fight misinformation by working with social media companies to identify reliable sources and work to limit the spread of false claims.
• Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy said the threat of economic damage posed by the crisis was so severe that the Brexit transition period should be extended.
Experts have warned about the risk that if tough measures are taken too soon, “fatigue” may set in, prompting the public to disregard the advice just as the virus reaches its peak.
The government has been taking advice from behavioural experts and mathematicians, as well as doctors and scientists, in trying to judge the best approach.