The U.K. government is now advising its citizens against all travel, to anywhere, for at least 30 days as it continues to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab shared the announcement with the House of Commons in London, telling citizens to restrict their travel to only that which is absolutely “essential.”
“With immediate effect, I’ve taken the decision to advise British nationals against all non-essential travel globally for an initial period of 30 days,” he told lawmakers per Bloomberg News.
According to the report, the new travel guideline comes as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recommended people avoid public areas or any social or entertainment venues.
Bloomberg reports the U.K., which is naturally isolated from continental Europe, is adopting similar restrictions to countries like France or Italy.
From the report:
The U.K. has faced criticism for not copying the more robust restrictions in other European countries.
French President Emmanuel Macron declared “war” on Covid-19 on Monday evening with a raft of measures to keep citizens in lock-down, just a few days after ordering business closures and shutting schools. Germany’s Angela Merkel rolled out similar moves to shut down bars, cinemas, gyms and other gathering places.
With the number of coronavirus cases hitting 183,582 worldwide, and deaths exceeding 7,000, the European Union proposed on Monday that it should close its external borders for 30 days as it seeks to contain the spread of the pandemic. Despite the U.K. no longer being a member of the EU, Britons are still allowed to travel to continental Europe.
U.K. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said he was hoping for as few deaths as possible from the coronavirus, pointing to a figure of 20,000 as reasonable. He described the number as “horrible” but a “good outcome,” considering some projections have the figure much higher.
“Every year, in seasonal flu, the number of excess deaths is thought to be 8,000, so if we can get this down to 20,000 and below that’s a good outcome in terms of where we’d hope to get to with this outbreak,” Vallance said per Bloomberg. “It’s still horrible, it’s still an enormous number of deaths and an enormous pressure on the health service.”
Bloomberg also reports that doctors in Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, are claiming their European counterparts—despite their best efforts—are repeating many of the mistakes they made in first handling it.
Peking Union Medical College Hospital Gastroenterology Professor Wu Dong said during a presser on Monday: “Our European colleagues are contracting the disease in their daily practice, and the proportion is quite similar to the earlier situation in Wuhan. We need to protect our medical staff.”
Bloomberg adds: “In Wuhan, a lack of understanding of the disease and a shortage of protective equipment in the early weeks of the outbreak in January led to thousands of health-care workers being infected while treating patients. At least 46 have died.”