Boris Johnson warns coronavirus response will become more 'extreme' in next few days

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he gives a press conference about the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak inside 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Boris Johnson at Tuesday's coronavirus press conference in Number 10. (AP/Matt Dunham)

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”.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of Covid-19 cases in your local area

Explained: Symptoms, latest advice and how it compares to the flu

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.

Britain's Chancellor Rishi Sunak, left, is flanked by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he gives a press conference inside 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 about the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson at Tuesday's press conference in Downing Street. (AP/Matt Dunham)

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.

Read more: There could be 55,000 coronavirus cases, says government's top scientific adviser

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.

Coronavirus: What you need to know