London’s Hyde Park would be turned into a morgue if the killer coronavirus outbreak escalates in the UK, under worst-case scenario plans.
Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, confirmed the royal park has emergency plans in place to store human corpses.
The Government has an array of procedures in case of a crisis on British soil, which could include the coronavirus if it spreads in the UK.
London’s Hyde Park (pictured) would be turned into a morgue if the killer coronavirus outbreak escalates in the UK, under worst-case scenario plans
A British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship (pictured in Yokohama) has died after being infected with coronavirus, Japanese authorities confirmed today. He was the first Briton to die in the crisis
Twenty cases have already been confirmed in Britain – including six in the last 24 hours. But none of the patients caught the deadly infection in Britain
Twenty cases have already been confirmed in Britain – including six in the last 24 hours – as a British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan.
But none of the patients caught the deadly infection in the UK.
Switzerland bans all events involving more than 1,000 people
Switzerland has today banned all events involving more than 1,000 people in a drastic bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Swiss government announced the emergency measure today and said it will last until at least March 15.
Officials say the ban on ‘public and private events’ is intended to ‘prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum’.
The move will affect events including concerts, the Basel Carnival, the Geneva Motor Show and matches in the Swiss Football League.
Switzerland has already confirmed 15 cases of the virus, and officials expect the outbreak to get worse because of the crisis over the border in northern Italy.
The Swiss ban on ‘large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people’ will take effect immediately.
‘In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent [regional] authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held,’ authorities said.
Health minister Alain Berset said that similar measures had proved ‘effective’ in other countries.
The government said it was ‘aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland’ but added that ‘it should prevent or delay the spread of the disease, thus reducing its momentum’.
The health minister told reporters that the number of cases in Switzerland was ‘not a surprise for us’, adding: ‘We have to expect an increase in cases in the next few days’.
The measure will affect the annual Geneva Motor Show, which was due to take place from March 5-15 and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Football fixtures are also affected. The five teams due to play at home this weekend all had more than 1,000 spectators in their last home games. The matches have now been postponed.
Taking a different approach, the national Swiss hockey league said all games this weekend will be played in front of empty stadiums.
The traditional Carnival procession in Basel will also have to be called off.
If the virus does begin to spread between humans in the UK, then emergency plans could be given the green-light to save thousands of lives.
Under the measures, schools could be closed for eight weeks and sporting fixtures such as FA Cup, Grand National and London Marathon postponed.
Schools including Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough and Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, are already shut after pupils returned from ski trips to Northern Italy.
Ms Aiken said Britain would be the best country to be in should the coronavirus outbreak become a pandemic because ‘we are so on it for contingency planning’.
Today, a doctor from Surrey was feared to have become the UK’s 20th confirmed coronavirus case – the first Brit to have caught the infection in the UK if confirmed.
The patient, believed to be a man whose wife is also a doctor, has been taken to a specialist hospital.
He has not recently been to northern Italy, China, Tenerife or Iran, the most at-risk areas in the world, raising serious questions about how he caught the disease.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed an unprecedented ban on large public gatherings could be required to fight a global pandemic.
Two people who had been in Iran tested positive and are in the infectious diseases unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
Wales also has its first case this morning after a father-of-two from Swansea who travelled back from northern Italy was diagnosed.
There were three new cases in the UK yesterday.
Although it is not confirmed, it appears the mother of a child at a Derbyshire school has tested positive after coming back from Tenerife, leading to the closure of Burbage Primary School in Buxton.
A second patient, believed to be a man from Surrey, was diagnosed yesterday after returning from Milan after a ski trip to the Italian Alps.
And Northern Ireland also had its first case last night – a woman who had come back from northern Italy via Dublin. People who sat within two rows of her have been contacted, health authorities in Belfast said.
The most extreme measure could be to mirror the decision to shut Japan’s entire school system, which will close from Monday for a month until April.
A UK shutdown would see millions of parents, including key workers such as surgeons, nurses and paramedics, forced to stay at home to care for their children.
A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess – in this case passengers who were about to be flown home by the Israeli government – drives away from the cruise ship in Yokohama last week
Prof Whitty admitted it is ‘just a matter of time’ until coronavirus spreads more widely and quicker through the UK – and the fightback could include ‘reducing mass gatherings and school closures’, with Premier League and FA Cup matches either under threat or played behind closed doors.
The London Marathon and the Grand National in April could also be at risk because of the large number of spectators – and this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome – the capital of coronavirus-hit Italy – is under review.
Theatre performances, gigs and music festivals such as Glastonbury could also be banned or pared back if the UK fails to get a grip on the crisis.
At the Tenerife hotel at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak, 50 of the 168 British guests were allowed to leave last night before their two-week quarantine was completed sparking fears they could bring the disease home with them. Jet2 is refusing to fly them home until mid-March.
Schools including Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough (pictured) are already shut after pupils returned from ski trips to Northern Italy
The NHS has said it is well prepared for the growing threat but senior doctors have admitted that they could have to ration care and focus on those most likely to survive and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘The NHS would find it hard to cope if the pandemic took off’.
Under protocol dubbed ‘Three Wise Men’, a hospital’s most senior consultants would meet daily and decide which patients would get beds and ventilators based on those most likely to recover. It means that vulnerable people such as the elderly and already seriously ill would be given less priority than younger and healthier patients.
The crisis has rocked world financial markets and London’s FTSE100, which immediately dropped three per cent when it opened yesterday having had £200billion wiped off its value this week taking it to a low level last seen in the 2008 financial crash. Today Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the economy has already been hit and growth could be downgraded.