Brits told to visit elderly now ahead of coronavirus ‘social distancing’ policy

Elderly Britons will be warned to confine themselves to their homes as the UK's coronavirus outbreak worsens, it is reported.

People will be urged to visit their elderly relatives now before the Government introduces new "social distancing" policies to prevent the spread of the killer bug.

Ministers are expected to announce next week that all hope of stopping an epidemic has been lost as the country moves into the "delay" phase, it is reported.

It comes after the flu-like illness, known as Covid-19, killed a second person – a grandfather in his 80s who had recently returned from a Caribbean cruise.

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The first stage of the Government's so-called "battle plan" was to contain the virus, but it is now moving into the "delay" phase amid fears the already overstretched NHS may be unable to cope.

This phase could include measures such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, and reducing the number of large-scale gatherings, if necessary.

It will likely include measures to protect the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The mortality rate among people over 80 is 15 per cent.

In Italy, the worst-affected European nation, the average age of patients who have died is 81.

The Premier League has discussed possibly banning fans aged over 70 from attending matches.

Pensioners are likely to be told to avoid crowds and public gatherings, and they could be asked to stay at home entirely, the Telegraph reported.

But there are fears that some could end up neglected and isolated for long periods if measures to keep them safe are introduced.

The deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, said that discussions about how to help older people are ongoing.

She told Sky News: "One of the important parts of that is not just about the recommendation or not to isolate, but actually ensuring that they have all of the supplies and care that they need."

A grandfather in his 80s, who had underlying health conditions, became the second person in the UK to die after testing positive for coronavirus.

He was being treated at Milton Keynes University Hospital and had recently returned from a cruise in the Caribbean.

On Thursday evening, a woman in her 70s became the first person in the UK to die. She had been admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

As of 9am on Saturday morning, 164 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK.

Health experts had earlier warned that up to 80 per cent of Britons could become infected during a worse case scenario.

Of those, about one per cent may die.

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