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The UK government has released a battle plan to deal with the spread of the coronavirus – as 51 people have now reportedly tested positive for the virus in the UK.
Prime minister Boris Johnson outlined the four-pronged plan at a conference earlier today attended by the government’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor.
He said the plan does not set out what the government will do, it ‘sets out the steps we could take at the right time along the basis of the scientific advice’.
He said: “Today we have published the coronavirus action plan setting out how all four parts of the UK will take all necessary and reasonable steps to tackle this outbreak.
“The plan has four strands. Containing the virus, delaying its spread, researching its origins and cure, and finally mitigating the impact should the virus become more widespread. That is, contain, delay, research, mitigate.
“And let me be absolutely clear that for the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus, this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover as we’ve already seen.”
He added that he understands public concern, saying that ‘keeping the country safe is the government’s overriding priority’.
Johnson also reiterated that people should wash their hands carefully, branding it the ‘single most important thing we can do’, in helping to stop the spread of the virus.
He said: “Finally, crucially, we must not forget what we can all do to fight this virus, which is to wash our hands, you knew I was going to say this, but wash our hands with soap and water.
“And forgive me for repeating this but there will be people who will be tuning into this for the first time: wash your hands with soap and hot water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
“It’s simple advice but it’s the single most important thing we can do, as I think our experts would attest.”
It is believed the virus started at a ‘wet market’ where live animals are freshly slaughtered and kept in close proximity to humans and dead animals – in Wuhan in early December.
According to the Humane Society’s president Kitty Block market vendors were selling ‘live cats and dogs, turtles, snakes, rats, hedgehogs and marmots’, and ‘menus and signboards posted online also listed foxes, wolf cubs, monkeys and masked palm civets, among other animals’.
China’s top legislative committee – the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee – has since cracked down on the trade and consumption of wild animals in an attempt to control the spread of the virus