Britons who have travelled to ANY part of Italy who feel ill will be told to self-isolate as Government ramps up its coronavirus prevention advice
- PHE Chief Chris Witty said the advice would be extended to the whole of Italy
- It comes as the country reported 41 new deaths and a new high of 769 infected
- All of Italy’s 22 regions have now been affected, with the data showing the virus had reached the Aosta Valley on the French border
Public Health England today announced that Britons returning from the whole of Italy are to self-isolate if they develop symptoms of the deadly coronavirus.
PHE Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty told a press conference today that the current advice for those returning from northern Italy is to be extended to the whole of the country.
While confirming that the government was still in the phase of containing the virus, entering the delay process is the ‘direction of travel’ for the future, Prof Whitty said.
An almost empty British Airways passenger plane flies from Milan to London today
Two tourists from Argentina wearing face masks walk in front of Milan’s Duomo cathedral today, with northern Italy at the centre of the outbreak
A closed and empty school in the San Fruttuoso neighborhood of Genoa is seen today with all schools and universities ordered to shut until March 15
Since the coronavirus reached British shores, the government and health bodies have been in the ‘contain’ phase, trying to stop the infection’s ability to spread.
In recent days, with evidence of community transmission, it is thought that PHE could attempt to push a major epidemic back to the summer in the hopes of slowing the rate of infections. COVID-19, which has infected 115 in the UK, is thought to spread faster in the cold.
Italy on Thursday reported 41 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, its highest single-day total to date, bringing the number of fatalities in Europe’s most affected country to 148.
The number of cases also jumped by a new high of 769, reaching 3,858 over the past two weeks.
The latest figures mean Italy has the second-most deaths behind China, where the new virus was first detected at the end of last year.
All of Italy’s 22 regions have now been affected, with the data showing the virus had reached the Aosta Valley on the French border.
Britain’s Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty walks along Whitehall in central London on Monday , after attending an emergency COBRA meeting into UK’s developing coronavirus COVID-19 situation
The number of COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care also rose to 351 from 295 on Wednesday.
The government has unveiled a series of unprecedented measures aimed at stemming the virus’ accelerating spread.
All schools and universities have been closed until March 15, keeping 8.5 million students at home.
Football matches and other sporting events will be played without fans for a month, and 11 villages with 50,000 residents remain under quarantine for a second week.
Travel to Italy was first curtailed on 25 February when the Foreign and Commonwealth issued advice for travellers returning from the hardest hit regions in the north of the country.
People who have visited all of Italy, Iran, the South Korean cities of Daegu or Cheongdo, are still required to self-isolate at home even if they feel healthy after returning.
Whereas those coming back from anywhere in Italy that is north of Pisa and Florence, or from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar should do the same if they start to feel ill.
Professor Whitty said today there was now a ‘slim to zero’ chance that the virus – which has infected more than 96,000 people worldwide – could be stopped.
And he said elderly people, known to be most likely to die from the coronavirus, did not yet need to batten down the hatches at home and that catching the virus in old age does not mean you would be ‘a goner’.
Phase one of four – ‘contain’ – was intended to isolate small numbers of cases and stop the virus spreading inside the UK but appears to have failed.
Professor Whitty said there was now evidence of community transmission between people who had no connections to overseas cases or returning travellers.
He said: ‘We have moved from a situation where we are mainly in contain, with some delay built in, to we are now mainly delay.’
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