The UK has moved from "contain" to the "delay" phase over the coronavirus outbreak, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.
The announcement means Britain has now switched from trying to contain the COVID-19 outbreak to delaying its spread.
It comes following a COBRA meeting, with Boris Johnson set to hold his own press conference later today.
The move means that from tomorrow (Friday March 13) if you have symptoms of coronavirus you should stay at home for seven days and overseas school trips should not go ahead.
The move comes after teachers were told to prepare “home-learning packs” for students, amid fears schools could be closed for as much as two months.
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"The decision has been taken that we have now moved from a contain phase, into the delay phase," Sturgeon said, following a meeting of the government's emergency committee.
She added: “There will be significant changes to people’s experience.”
The move to the “delay” phase comes a day after the World Health Organisation designated COVID-19 a pandemic.
The number of cases also leapt by 74 on Wednesday to 456, with the figure expected to rise significantly in the coming days.
The UK is not yet, however, copying the drastic action in Italy, where the entire population has been quarantined and football matches played behind closed doors.
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Italy is the worst affected by COVID-19 in Europe, with more than 12,000 cases and 800 deaths.
The country is now on lockdown with events cancelled, workplaces shut and churches, museums, cinemas, theatres and schools closed.
The UK’s move to enter the delay phase comes hours after Ireland also announced the lockdown of its schools.
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said the measures take effect from 6pm on Thursday through until March 29.
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He also said indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump earlier announced he was suspending travel to the US from 26 European countries – but not the UK or Ireland.
The US president said the "strong but necessary restrictions" would come into effect on Friday, and last 30 days.
Countries across Europe are now implementing month-long emergency restrictions – including closures and cancellations – after the World Health Organisation hit out at “inaction”.
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WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks, and that he was "deeply concerned" by "alarming levels of inaction".
Worldwide there are currently around 130,000 positive cases of coronavirus – mostly in the epicentre of the disease in China – and nearly 5,000 deaths.
Around 70,000 of the cases have recovered, according to reports, with the majority of deaths including elderly people or those with underlying health conditions.
- Boris Johnson
- Donald Trump
- Champions League
- Europa League
- World Health Organisation
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