By Tony Winterburn •
Published: 02 Mar 2020 • 7:44
Prime Minister wears a yellow biohazard suit to visit Public Health England's laboratory in Colindale, north-west London
Boris Johnson has called for an emergency Cobra meeting to held today where he will warn ministers the Coronavirus outbreak presents a “significant challenge” as the number of UK cases soared.
The prime minister will finalise the government’s new battle plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19 following a weekend in which the number of infected people climbed to 36, with cases now in all four UK countries.
Mr. Johnson has faced criticism for waiting until Monday to chair the meeting in which he will lay out coronavirus contingency plans that could include banning public gatherings. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also expected to be there after a person from Tayside, near Dundee – who had recently returned from Italy – was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday.
Another 12 cases were also confirmed in England, making it the largest jump in cases the UK has seen in one day. Three of the 12 are adults related to a man from Haslemere, Surrey, who tested positive on Friday – Scotland also reported its first case.
The government has said its plan if the outbreak worsens could include asking newly-retired doctors and nurses to return to the NHS, people could also be urged to work from home – and closing schools and cancelling major public events have also not been ruled out.
“There now seems little doubt that it will present a significant challenge for our country,” Mr. Johnson is expected to tell the meeting, which will involve the UK’s chief medical adviser as well as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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