London could go into lockdown under tougher coronavirus measures | UK news

London could be facing a lockdown similar to those in other European cities, as Nicola Sturgeon suggested the government is considering the measure to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Scotland’s first minister, who attends the government’s regular emergency Cobra meetings, said she expected the UK government to announce “more stringent measures” for London, where the disease is spreading at a faster rate than the rest of the country.

It is understood that Downing Street has not ruled out such steps and is yet to decide on whether to bring them in, but they are not expected to take effect within the next two days at least.

Asked about the possibility of a London lockdown at his daily press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Boris Johnson said he would not hesitate to bring in “further and faster measures” to deal with coronavirus. The prime minister said: “We’ve always said we’re going to do the right measures at the right time.

“That’s what we’ve done and actually I think a lot of people are making a real heroic effort to comply with the advice that we have given but as I’ve said tonight and in the past few days we keep everything under continuous review and we will not hesitate to bring forward further and faster measures where we think that is necessary.”

Asked if he would introduce legislation to specifically reduce people’s movements he said it was not a natural choice for a government that valued liberty, but he ruled nothing out when pandemic reached its peak.

In some European countries including Italy and France, people have been restricted to their houses and face a fine if they leave for any reason other than to buy food, visit the pharmacy or go to their job if they cannot work from home.

The British government has come under criticism for its failure to bring in mandatory social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus, with Johnson saying on Monday only that people should avoid “non-essential contact”.

One source at City Hall said there had been no word of immediate action from No 10 on moving to far more strict measures on people’s movement.

“We’ve not been told anything at all about this yet, which would indicate there’s nothing due immediately. But we are ready to take what action is needed to protect the health of Londoners,” the source said.

Other sources said that with London confirmed as being more advanced than the rest of the UK in the spread of the disease, the general expectation was that new containment measures would be rolled out in the capital first.

Asked about the possibility of a lockdown for London, the prime minister’s official spokesman said the measures to protect people from coronavirus would be guided by scientific advice.

Symptoms are defined as either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.

Information: If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.

If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.

If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Source: NHS England on 18 March 2020

He said: “We’ve set out the steps we think are necessary at this point in time but we will be guided by scientific and medical advice to ensure we take the right steps to protect the public.”

Johnson said earlier this week that London was moving ahead of the rest of the UK on the curve of the coronavirus’s spread and people should heed the advice on social contact.

Powers under the 1984 Public Health (Control of Disease) Act could be deployed in a lockdown scenario. It allows for individuals “to be kept in isolation for their own safety”, the prime minister’s spokesman said.

The government is already expected to introduce emergency powers to shut premises, restrict gatherings and scale back transport services.

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