Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to ‘ban pubs from showing football matches’ in expected sweeping measures

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Football fans could be prevented from watching matches in pubs. (PA)

Pubs are set to be banned from showing football matches in an attempt to stop coronavirus spreading around the UK.

Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra meeting at lunchtime on Thursday where ministers are due to assess whether government action should shift out of the containment stage and into the delay phase.

The meeting comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus crisis a worldwide pandemic on Wednesday.

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Moving to delay would mean social distancing measures could be brought in, such as restricting public gatherings, and more widespread advice to stay at home.

Among the measures would be Premier League and other matches being moved behind closed doors and stopping pubs from showing the games to reduce the risk of spread, according to The Times.

Coronavirus in Westminster

The potential measures come after eight people with Covid-19 were confirmed to have died in the UK, while the total number of positive cases rose to 460.

Coronavirus cases in Europe. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

A Cabinet minister, who has not been named, was also reported to be self-isolating while awaiting a test result after coming into contact with health minister Nadine Dorries.

Dorries is self-isolating at home after being diagnosed with the illness, while Labour MP Rachael Maskell is self-isolating at home after coming into contact with the Tory minister.

A source confirmed fellow health minister Edward Argar is also self-isolating at home "as a precaution" after having lunch with Dorries on Thursday, the day she started to feel unwell.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the Daily Telegraph he was "at the tail end of a cold" after people on social media raised concerns about him coughing during the Budget.

He told the paper: "I've already been checked for coronavirus and it was negative."

Cases increase

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday that the number of cases outside China has increased 13-fold in the past two weeks, and the number of affected countries has tripled.

Boris Johnson is set to decide whether to take fresh measures to tackle coronavirus in the UK (AP)

He said individual countries could still change the course of the virus through their actions, but said the agency expected the number of deaths and affected countries to climb higher.

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"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," he said.

"We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.”

But Dr Tedros advised that despite the change in the language, WHO is still advising countries to remain in the containment phase.

People walk past a coronavirus public information campaign poster in London, which focuses on hand washing. (PA)

Also on Wednesday, the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust said a patient in their 70s being treated for underlying health conditions had died after testing positive for Covid-19.

And the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, said an elderly patient being treated for a number of serious underlying health conditions had also died.

Read more: How many coronavirus cases are there in your area?

It came as 53-year-old British woman was reported to have died from Covid-19 in Indonesia.

She was ill with other health conditions, including diabetes and lung disease, the Indonesian government said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out plans for the health service in his Budget on Wednesday. (PA)

Coronavirus Budget

In Wednesday's Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out plans for the health service in his Budget and pledged security and support for those who are sick and unable to work due to the spread of Covid-19.

Read more: Doctor's warning to those underestimating coronavirus

Sunak said: "Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus it will get – whether it's millions of pounds or billions of pounds, whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.”

Earlier, the government said there were no plans to test any ministers, including the prime minister, for Covid-19 following Ms Dorries' positive diagnosis.

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