Over 70s to self-isolate for four months, Health Secretary confirms

Secretary of State of Health Matt Hancock (Picture: Reuters)

The Health Secretary has confirmed people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months to protect them from coronavirus.

Matt Hancock said it is a ‘very big ask’, but it is a measure which is for their own ‘self-protection’.

In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Mr Hancock said the steps are ‘very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country’.

Confirming the Government’s plan this morning, Matt Hancock told Sky: ‘That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it’s for their own self-protection.’

The elderly will be asked to self-isolate for four months (Picture: Reuters)

Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: ‘Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely.’

Mr Hancock
said ministers are yet to make a decision on whether to ban gatherings of over
500 people in the rest of the UK.

‘We are absolutely ready to do that as necessary,’ he said,
but he pointed towards a Cobra meeting being held on Monday when asked when the
decision will be made.

‘We will take these decisions at the right time but I’m
absolutely prepared to take actions like that if those actions are necessary,’
he told Sky’s Ridge On Sunday.

‘We’ve already seen many sporting events being cancelled and
lots of these big gatherings being cancelled.’

Caption: Matt Hancock, coronavirus interview on Sky News 15.03.2020 (Picture: Sky News)

He said washing hands and asking the elderly and vulnerable to stay indoors are the ‘really big things’ to slow the spread and save lives.

‘Things like the mass gatherings, actually it doesn’t really
matter how big the gathering is. What matters is making sure people who have
the illness aren’t spreading it and stay home,’ he added.

In Scotland, there is guidance that events of 500 people or
more should be cancelled from Monday.

Ten more patients died in England after testing positive for
Covid-19, bringing the UK death toll to 21.

The 10 patients who died since Friday were being cared for
in Buckinghamshire, Sandwell & West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester,
Barts, London, north Middlesex and Chester, NHS England said.

A number of the patients, who were over 60, had underlying health conditions.

The Department of Health has launched this coronavirus warning to Britons (Picture: PA)

There have been 1,140 positive tests for coronavirus in the
UK as of 9am on Saturday, up from 798 at the same time on Friday, the
Department of Health and Social Care said.

The US government imposed a travel ban on the UK and Ireland
amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference on Saturday President Donald Trump was
asked about reports that the US travel ban from Europe would be extended to the
UK and Ireland on Monday.

Mr Trump, who confirmed that he had been tested for
coronavirus, said: ‘We’re looking at it very seriously, yes, because they’ve
had a little bit of activity unfortunately, so we’re going to be looking at

‘We actually already have looked at it and that is going to be announced.’

More: UK

Shortly after, US vice president Mike Pence confirmed the
ban, saying: ‘In our taskforce meeting today the president has made a decision
to suspend all travel to the UK and Ireland, effective midnight Monday night,
eastern standard time.’0

Mr Pence said there had been a ‘unanimous recommendation’
from health experts to extend the travel ban.

‘Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home, legal
residents can come home … they will be funnelled through specific airports
and processed.’

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England,
said earlier on Saturday: ‘I am sorry to confirm 10 further patients who have
tested positive for Covid-19 in England have died.

‘All 10 individuals were in the at risk groups. I understand
this increase in the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 will be a cause for
concern for many.

‘The public should know every measure we are taking is
seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.

‘Every single one of us has a role to play in achieving
this. If you have a new continuous cough or high temperature, please stay at
home for seven days.

‘I also encourage everyone to be washing their hands for 20
seconds regularly.

‘I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends who have received this difficult news. I ask that their privacy is respected at this time.’

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means staying indoors and avoiding all contact with other people for 14 days, according to the NHS.

It means no going to work, school, the shops or even to the park for some fresh air, in order to minimise the risk of passing on Covid-19.

Public transport and taxis are a no-no and you shouldn’t have visitors over, even if you just stay at home.

Anyone in self-isolation is advised to ask friends, family and delivery drivers to pick things up for you and drop them-off. You should put a sign outside telling people you are self-isolating and everything should be left on the floor outside your front door to avoid the risk of further infections.

You should leave a sign outside your property if you have to self-isolate (Picture: PA)

Those who are self-isolating are still advised to stay away from their pets as much as possible and to wash their hands before and after touching them.

If you live in a house share and have to self-isolate, the advice is to stay in your room with the door closed and only emerge to use communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas if absolutely necessary.

Who should self-isolate?

The government advises anyone returning from Category 1 areas (Hubei, Iran, Italy and Daegu or Cheongdo in South Korea), to go straight home and self-isolate, even if they don’t display any symptoms.

Travellers should use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next.

Anyone returning from Category 2 areas should self-isolate and call 111 if they have Covid-19 symptoms. You can find the list of those places here.

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