Around the globe, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has sparked a major health crisis as many countries grapple with increasing confirmed infections and deaths. Italy, Iran, and South Korea struggle as they are the countries with the highest number of cases outside mainland China. But, health expert fears that there may be about 10,000 people infected with the coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the current outbreak is the worst public health crisis for a generation and warned residents they would see the loss of loved ones before their time. In the UK, there are ten reported deaths linked to COVID-19, with 596 infections, up by 134 in just 24 hours.
Johnson said that the country is entering its second phase of the response to COVID-19. The virus has a foothold in the UK, with many local transmissions now occurring. The government is now focused on delaying the infection spread or 'flattening the curve,' rather than containing the virus.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, added that with the number of confirmed cases, there might be between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected.
The country has suffered severe disruption in day to day activities, and it may take months before everything will go back to normal.
Bristol, England – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Information and Advice from the NHS (National Health Service). Image Credit: Kollawat Somsri / Shutterstock
No school closure
However, the government has not canceled events that draw large crowds, including sporting events as per other countries. Schools and universities are also still open.
Sir Patrick explained why these were their recommendations. He said that there are two trajectories of the outbreak – in one, the epidemic involves a sharp increase and the other, its trajectory is parabolic, or a gentle hill climb. To flatten and slow down the outbreak, normal activities should be continued.
“On average, one person infects two or three others. You, therefore, have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium,” Sir Patrick said.
“Most of the transmission tends to take place with friends and colleagues. Not in big environments,” he added.
Some ministers are considering banning major public events, but the prime minister said schools should not close unless they are advised to do so. Still, schools are urged to cancel trips abroad, and those with underlying medical conditions are advised not to go on cruises.
Those with symptoms to self-isolate
He recommends that those with persistent cough or fever should self-isolate for about seven days. Further, testing will only focus on detecting people with the virus in hospitals. Those with symptoms are no longer required to report to NHS 111 since the system is now strained. The government recommends they get information on the NHS website, instead.
Mr. Johnson added that the most critical period was still weeks away. He emphasized that the line of defense should be deployed at the right time to make the most of its effect.
The government encourages that the most important thing people can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands and practice respiratory hygiene. People should cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it in a closed bin and wash your hands.
"In the coming weeks, we will be introducing further social distancing measures for older and vulnerable people, asking them to self-isolate regardless of symptoms," the government said.
"If we introduce this next stage too early, the measures will not protect us at the time of greatest risk but could have a huge social impact. We need to time this properly, continue to do the right thing at the right time, so we get the maximum effect for delaying the virus. We will clearly announce when we ask the public to move to this next stage," it added.
The UK is not the only country reporting high transmissions and confirmed cases. The United States has topped 1,663 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while South Korea, Iran, and Italy are still the' hotspots' of the global pandemic.
Italy is so far the worst-shaken country next to China, with staggering 12,462 cases and 827 deaths. Iran comes in third with 10,075 confirmed cases and 429 deaths.
In South Korea, the measures the government imposed early on is working as the number of infections has slowed down. There are 7,869 confirmed cases but only 66 deaths.
In the Philippines, the number of confirmed cases has reached 52, within days. The President has ordered that the National Capital Region, where Manila is located, to be placed on community quarantine, with domestic air, sea, and land travel restriction to be imposed on March 15.
Schools are shut until April 22 in the metropolis, while other cities and provinces across the country have suspended classes until further notice. Festivals, mass gatherings, and concerts have been canceled to reduce local transmission of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as a global pandemic. It reported four new countries with infections, including Turkey, French Polynesia, Honduras, and Côte d'Ivoire.