Boris Johnson has warned the government’s “extreme” coronavirus measures will go “further and faster” in the next few days.
The prime minister did not discuss exactly what this will entail, but it raises the prospect of the UK adopting draconian measures seen in European countries.
The government’s latest strategy has included telling everyone to avoid non-essential contact with others; urging two weeks of self-isolation for any household where someone is showing coronavirus symptoms; and withdrawing state support for mass gatherings.
Speaking at Tuesday’s daily coronavirus press briefing in Downing Street, Johnson said: “Although the measures announced are already extreme, we may well have to go further and faster in the coming days to protect lives and the NHS.”
He insisted that if people follow the government’s science-led advice, “we know that we will beat” coronavirus and “we have the resolve and the resources to win the fight”.
The PM added the possibility of school closures will be kept under “continuous review”.
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Johnson’s press conference came after it was announced the death toll had risen by 14 to 71.
The number of confirmed cases has also jumped by 407 to 1,950: the biggest day-on-day rise since the outbreak began.
Standing next to chancellor Rishi Sunak, Johnson said his administration will “act like any wartime government” as it attempts to deal with the outbreak.
Sunak subsequently announced an “unprecedented” set of financial measures to help the economy resist the impact of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Number 10 has set up four new government structures focusing specially on its coronavirus response.
These will be health, chaired by health secretary Matt Hancock; economy and business, chaired by Sunak; international, chaired by foreign secretary Dominic Raab; and general public sector, chaired by chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.
The quartet will now attend Johnson’s daily coronavirus Cobra meetings in Downing Street.