Boris Johnson announced stricter social measures to stem the flow of coronavirus on Monday that amounted to a lockdown, following in the footsteps of Italy, Spain and China.
The city of Wuhan was worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak with hospitals overrun with patients suffering from serious symptoms of the respiratory disease.
A lockdown of the city and the region has seen Hubei Province record no new cases for over a week suggesting that the lockdown has been effective in stemming the spread of the disease.
When were parts of China placed under lockdown?
People were banned from entering and leaving Wuhan on January 23 in a surprise announcement as millions of citizens made plans to travel across the country to celebrarte the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Flights and trains to the city were cancelled as China attempted to smother the ballooning disease.
By January 29 all cities in Hubei province were essentially locked down, with Huanggang, Wenzhou and other mainland cities hit with a curfew. Cities in the region of Zheijang were also locked down with families only able to appoint one family member to go out to purchase life necessities for every two days.
When will lockdown in Wuhan end?
The Chinese government has announced plans to allow travel to and from Wuhan in Hubei province from April 8, so long as they are healthy.
This would mean that the city had been cut off from the rest of the world for a total of 72 days.
From March 24 restrictions on travel in the rest of Hubei province were lifted – for residents who are healthy.
The easing of these measures came as the UK spent its first day in lockdown as the public collectively attempted to stem the flow of the coronavirus.
Did lockdown in China work?
On March 18 Hubei Province recorded no new positive cases of Covid-19 for the first itme since the outbreak began, according to officials in the country.
A day later 34 new cases were recorded in the rest of the country though these were all detected in people arriving from abroad.
On March 23 officials revealed that the country recorded just one coronavirus case five days.
Some experts are skeptical about whether China have in fact “defeated” the virus, however.
For instance an unamed source from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told magazine Caixin: “It cannot be determined whether transmission has been completely cut off in Wuhan.”
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.
All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.
Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.
Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.
The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.
For more information on government advice, please check their website. https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
Should I avoid public places?
You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
When to call NHS 111
NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS