Pregnant women will be told to stay at home for 12 weeks after being added to the ‘at risk’ list in new coronavirus guidance issued by the government.
It is the first time the government have officially grouped pregnant women with the elderly and more vulnerable.
Public Health England chief medical officer Chris Whitty said a particular risk to pregnant women had not been identified but the measures were precautionary.
He said: “It may in retrospect find that was overkill but we’d rather be more cautionary now rather than the other way.”
He described the new guidance for those more at risk as “absolutely critical”.
The latest announcement came shortly before figures confirmed 55 people have now died – a jump of 20 cases in 24 hours.
Boris Johnson announced that those in vulnerable groups – including all those over 70 – would be asked to avoid contact by isolating except in very specific circumstances.
Mr Johnson added: “This advice about avoiding all social contact is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions.”
It could mean avoiding social contact for 12 weeks, with entire households now being asked to self-isolate for 14 days if just one member has symptoms.
Prof Whitty said: “The group of people who we would want to take this advice particularly seriously are older people above 70, people who in adult life would normally be advised to have the flu vaccination.
“So these are people with chronic diseases such as chronic heart disease or chronic kidney disease, and also – as a precautionary measure because we are early in our understanding and we want to be sure – women who are pregnant.”
Anyone with a high temperature or a new and continuous cough or anyone in their household with those symptoms should stay at home, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.
Affected people should only go out to exercise at a safe distance form others and not even leave the house for food.
The Prime Minister said all non-essential travel and contact with others must stop, asking everyone in the UK to work from home if possible and avoid all pubs, clubs and other social gatherings.
Asked about whether curfews and criminal sanctions are on the cards as wider social distancing measures are announced, Boris Johnson has said it is unlikely – but added that all measures are under review.
The Prime Minster said the UK already has extensive powers to deal with potential breaches of orders.
He has told a press conference: “most people would accept we are already a mature and liberal democracy where people understand very clearly the advice that is being given to them.”
Earlier the World Health Organisation urged all countries to stick to containment strategies, saying the pandemic is controllable.
Director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned people with Covid-19 can still infect others after they stop feeling sick.
He recommended that when sick people were being cared for at home, both patient and caregiver should wear a mask when together, and the infected person should sleep in a different room.
He added: “People infected with Covid-19 can still infect others after they stop feeling sick, so these measures should continue for at least two weeks after symptoms disappear.”
This Post was originally published on www.mirror.co.uk