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18.00 16 Mar 2020


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The British Prime Minister has said the government is now strongly advising against mass gatherings in the UK.

Boris Johnson gave his first daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak today and warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK could double every five or six days without "drastic action".

He said that people need to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres and to only make essential journeys in the "national fightback" against coronavirus.

Mr Johnson also said now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and travel.

He said measures would be escalated once again in the coming days, when those with underlying health problems would be told to isolate themselves for three months.

The British government will hold daily televised news conferences concerning the coronavirus pandemic as the number of coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 1,543 - an increase of 171 in 24 hours.

Figures released on Sunday show 35 people in the UK diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.

The UK government is also talking to education chiefs about the possibility of school closures.

A government bill on emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus outbreak is to be set out on Tuesday and published on Thursday.

It could include giving police powers to arrest and forcibly quarantine people who are sick with the virus but are not self-isolating.

Reporting by IRN

Main image: A screen-grab of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on COVID-19 today. Photo: PA Video/PA Wire

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