Cobra meeting: What will be discussed as today’s coronavirus meeting as Sheffield cases hit 12

Boris Johnson or one of his senior ministers will hold daily press conferences to update the public on the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Downing Street has said.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 1:58 pm

The Prime Minister will address the media over the pandemic alongside chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday.

The first of the daily briefings will come after the PM chairs a Cobra committee meeting expected to focus on plans to shield elderly and vulnerable citizens, household isolation and mass gatherings.

The PM or a "senior" minister will host each briefing and face scrutiny while being joined by a revolving cast of medical and scientific experts, No 10 said.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance during a press conference on the government's coronavirus action plan at Downing Street on March 3, 2020 in London, England (photo by Frank Augstein-WPA Pool/Getty Images).

"The Prime Minister and this Government are committed to keeping the public informed every step of the way about what we're doing to fight the spread of coronavirus, when we're doing it and why we're doing it," a spokeswoman added.

"At all times, we will be led by the science to bring forward the right responses at the right time to this global pandemic."

His address on Monday is expected to come after he chairs an emergency Cobra meeting when further decisions could be taken on moves to stem the spread of the disease.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested a decision could be made during the committee over whether to ban mass gatherings to aid the fight.

He also said on Sunday that over-70s could be told "in the coming weeks" to stay at home for a period of up to four months to shield themselves from the virus.

The Cabinet minister also said other severe measures could include police being handed powers to arrest people who are infected but who are not self-isolating.

Bars, restaurants and shops other than supermarkets and pharmacies could be told to shut, he added.

As of 9am on 15 March 2020, 40,279 people have been tested in the UK, of which 38,907 were confirmed negative and 1,372 were confirmed as positive. Thirty-five patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.