12 more cases in UK
Up to a fifth of workers could be off sick with coronavirus
Mark Carney: the economic effect will last at least a quarter
As many as one in five workers may be off sick at the peak of a coronavirus epidemic in the UK, according to the UK government.
Revealing its latest plans to tackle the virus now sweeping across the world, the government announced that the police may be called into action to maintain public order if panic takes hold.
The Army could also provide support to emergency services if needed. Other possible measures include school closures, reducing social gatherings and working from home.
Some non-urgent hospital care may be delayed to focus on treating coronavirus patients, while recently retired doctors and nurses may be called back to work.
Legislation will be introduced to ensure ministers have the powers to prepare for a widespread outbreak.
The number of confirmed cases in Britain rose by a further 12 today, taking the total to 51. All the new cases involve people who have travelled from abroad.
The chancellor Rishi Sunak said this month’s budget will see help for the health services and economy.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was not recommending cancellation of large events such as the London Marathon or school closures, unless this was advised by Public Health England.
The plans were outlined as a leading London drama school has shut because a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus.
Bank warns of disruption
Bank of England governor Mark Carney told a Commons committee: “It is reasonable to expect the economic effects to last at least a quarter, and perhaps two.”
The difference between now and the financial crisis of 2008 is that the banking system “is part of the solution, not part of the problem”, he said.
UK households “have worked hard since 2008”, and they’ve paid down debt, providing “an additional buffer”.
While the 2008 crisis had “some lasting scarring effects on the economy”, the prospects for coronavirus are “that we will have disruption not destruction”.
He would not provide a precise figure on the possible effects on the UK economy.