The coronavirus pandemic has hit the British government on Friday, in which within a few hours Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19 and some key members of his team against the disease have been forced to seclude themselves in their home.
Health Minister Matt Hancock is also infected, while government medical adviser Chris Whitty, one of the experts who regularly reported to the British at a press conference, has decided to isolate himself after developing symptoms in the past few hours.
The figures offered by the health authorities suggest that the ravages caused by viruses are accelerating in the country. The death toll increased by 181, to a total of 759, compared to an increase of 115 killed yesterday and 41 on Wednesday.
The number of confirmed cases is 14,579, after an increase of almost 3,000 infected this Friday, and the Executive has warned that the scope of the virus is doubling every three or four days.
JOHNSON CONTINUES COMMAND
In a videotaped message from his official residence at 10 Downing Street, Johnson, 55, reported that he suffers from mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Looking lively, the Prime Minister explained that he has a fever and a “persistent cough” but assured that he will continue “working from home” and leading the UK’s response to the pandemic through video calls.
His place at the daily press conference to report on the progress of the fight against the virus was held this afternoon by the Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, “number two” of the Government.
Gove reported that a collaboration has been launched between “companies, research centers and universities” to manufacture tests that detect the virus’s antigen and increase rapid tests for workers in the health sector.
The minister announced that this weekend “hundreds” of preliminary tests will be carried out with these tests and next week their use will be extended “intensively” if they offer good results.
UNITED KINGDOM PREPARES
As the virus progresses, military personnel are adapting the ExCeL conference center in East London to house up to 4,000 additional hospital beds.
At the same time, work has begun at Birmingham Airport (central England) to condition its facilities as a temporary morgue with capacity for up to 12,000 bodies.
The government has also accelerated its plans for various companies to start producing 30,000 sanitary respirators in the shortest possible time.
The Dyson vacuum cleaner company, which collaborates with defense firm Babcock, has received an order for 10,000 appliances, while Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Ford, among others, have partnered in a consortium called “Ventilator Challenge UK” to get started to produce as soon as possible.
The Government last Monday decreed mandatory home confinement for all citizens except in exceptional cases. Still, the police only received by law yesterday, Thursday, the powers necessary to enforce the measure.
The protocol of action contemplates that the agents warn in the first place those who are in the street without a justified reason that they must return home, although fines and arrests are also foreseen in case of not obeying.
The police can sanction those who skip confinement with 60 pounds (67 euros), a fine that will be reduced to 30 pounds (33 euros) if paid within two weeks.
Johnson’s order allows you to go out to exercise once a day as long as you respect a distance of two meters with other people.
Public parks are still open, so green areas of the British capital such as Hyde Park and Regent’s Park remain busy these days, although groups of people are not allowed to form.
The isolation measures have drawn criticism from civil rights organizations in the United Kingdom.
“Citizens must follow government recommendations to protect themselves and others. Police understandably throw parties and barbecues, but asking drivers to give them details of where they are going at roadblocks is beyond the limit. “A spokeswoman for the Big Brother Watch organization told The Times.
Liberty Director Clare Collier, for her part, told “The Guardian” that she is “extremely concerned about the breadth of the coercive powers” of the police.
“This is a pandemic and should be treated as a health problem. Instead, the government is treating it as a matter of criminal justice,” he argued.