Coronavirus has been tonight declared the ‘highest level of emergency’ by NHS England.
The escalating situation involving the virus is now deemed to be a ‘level 4 incident’, the highest category, according to reports.
It comes as the national number of positive cases stands at 51 and the Government announces its action plan to help support the UK.
The NHS could delay non-urgent care, schools could close and large public gatherings could be banned if extraordinary measures are needed to curb the spread of the flu-like illness.
The NHS has meanwhile also announced a new 111 hot-line to help people get quick advice about Coronavirus, as enquiries to the health service about the outbreak have surged.
More than 35,000 people used the site in a single day over the weekend to get help and advice.
The NHS in England is also ploughing an initial extra £1.7 million in to 111 to offer more clinical advice over the phone.
Further funding will also provide 500 additional initial call responders with the capacity to answer around 20,000 more calls every day.
Investment will increase if demand continues to rise.
Additional investment will free up clinical call handlers’ time so they are able to prioritise callers with symptoms.
NHS ON CORONAVIRUS
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What’s the risk of coronavirus in the UK?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
What’s the risk of coronavirus for travellers?
There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.
See NHS coronavirus advice for travellers.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
• a cough
• a high temperature
• shortness of breath
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How coronavirus is spread
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.
Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
Do I need to avoid public places?
Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.
You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.