British Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows the example of other European leaders but does not take action to close schools.

" />

News / Culture

UK Government urges self-isolation

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows the example of other European leaders but does not take action to close schools.

Yesterday evening, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered the message that people living in the UK should “stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel” in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. This tactic is commonly referred to as “social distancing” and has been suggested by medical professionals as a means of limiting COVID-19’s cases. Johnson’s efforts to encourage social isolation measures have also been echoed by Western celebrities; with the likes of Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga calling on their followers to stay indoors.

Given that individuals with the virus can be asymptomatic for up to a week, they can infect others without even realising it. This appears to be why the virus has spread so quickly, overwhelming the intensive care units in countries like Italy. As a result, the UK government is now following the example of countries like France, Spain and Germany which have banned large-scale gatherings. “We need people to start working from home where they possibly can, Johnson also said last night. “And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”

As of writing, British cultural institutions like Tate and ICA, as well as 300 theatres across the UK, have closed or are due to close. It has been noted that by asking the public to “avoid” social venues, rather than ordering these venues’ temporary closure, the Prime Minister is preventing business owners from claiming insurance for the coming decline in revenue. Speaking to The Guardian, representatives from the hospitality industry have stated that this could pose an “existential threat” to their sector. At the same time, UK schools have not been ordered to shut; meaning that children are not included in social isolation measures and will likely spread the virus amongst one another.

Coronavirus cases have risen exponentially since first being recorded in China’s Wuhuan in December 2019. Since then, the virus has reached Europe, Asia (including MENA region), North America, Latin America, Australasia and 25 out of 54 countries in Africa. Globally, 183,372 cases and 7,167 virus-related deaths have been recorded with an approximate death rate of one percent. 

Stay up to date with coronavirus stats with this interactive map created by John Hopkins University.

17 March 2020