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Coronavirus: Public urged to plan for self-isolation

The current Government advice is that stockpiling food, medicines and other essentials is not necessary.

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Hand sanitisers at the entrance to the QEII Centre in London (Philip Toscano/PA)

Hand sanitisers at the entrance to the QEII Centre in London (Philip Toscano/PA)

Hand sanitisers at the entrance to the QEII Centre in London (Philip Toscano/PA)

Public Health England (PHE) is urging members of the public to “plan ahead” for if they had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks.

In two new blog posts, PHE said more people may be asked to self-isolate at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus, while “social distancing” measures such as not going to cinemas, pubs or sporting events may be needed in the future.

It said people could look ahead, asking themselves to “consider how you or your family would manage if you had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks”, or if social-distancing measures were eventually brought in to reduce people mixing.

It added: “Everyone has a part to play, and we’re asking people to think about what they do in a typical week, how they could limit contact with others if asked to, and how they could help people in their community, who might need support if certain social-distancing measures were put in place.

“This might include helping older relatives and neighbours to get some food in, so that they would have supplies for a week or so if required, ensuring someone would be available to go shopping for them, or arranging for online delivery if they needed it.”

The blogs set out a series of questions people should ask themselves, including: “Do you have friends or neighbours who could bring food to your house or run errands, or could you do online shopping?

“Could you talk to your employer about opportunities to work from home if this became necessary?”

People who are elderly or “vulnerable to severe symptoms”, are also told to think how they would manage and whether they could work from home.

The blogs ask people to think about friends, family or neighbours who might need extra help.

PHE said social distancing and more self-isolation will only be implemented “if scientists and experts, including the UK’s chief medical officers, decide they are necessary and proportionate”.

But it said people could be asked to stay home for up to 14 days.

“If the virus is spreading quickly, we may ask whole households to self-quarantine, if anyone in the home has symptoms,” it adds.

PHE said most cases of Covid-19 will be treatable at home, adding that “being asked to self-isolate could be inconvenient, frustrating or boring, particularly if you have mild symptoms”.

However, it may be necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus, “protect people who are vulnerable and help the NHS manage capacity”.

The public is also urged to think about how it uses NHS services, and to only call 999 in a genuine emergency.

PA