Downing Street lobby briefing – live news | Politics

The prime minister’s spokesman is here.

He says the PM has been chairing Cobra. The chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser were there. A range of measures to contain and delay the spread of coronavirus were discussed.

Later the PM will give a reading at the Commonwealth Day memorial service.

Greg Hands, the international trade minister, is visiting New York and Washington.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, is in Algiers. And Wendy Morton, another Foreign Office minister, is in Argentina.

The spokesman says Cobra was still going on as he left for the briefing, and so he says a full briefing on what was agreed will come later.

But he says at this stage the government is not calling for sporting events to be cancelled.

Q: Are we in the contain or delay phase?

The spokesman says we are in the contain phase, but it is accepted that the disease will spread at speed.

Q: When the CMO advises that we have moved to the delay phase, does he take the decision? Or is it ultimately up to the PM?

The spokesman says the PM has been clear that he will be led by the scientific advice.

He says it is important that any steps to delay the disease are introduced at the optimum time.

He says the government’s plan talks about the need to achieve the greatest possible impact on containing the spread of the disease, while minimising the social cost.

Q: Will there be a meeting of SAGE (scientific advisory group for emergencies) today?

The spokesman says it is more likely to come tomorrow.

Q: Does the government agree with the WHO director who says it is vital to takle the disease aggressively early on?

The spokesman says the government believes in following the scientific advice.

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