Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a new warning for Britons as the UK enters into the “delay” phase of its plan to fight the coronavirus. The announcement came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the virus a pandemic.
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Mr Johnson urged Britons to avoid going on cruise holidays if they are over the age of 70 and have any existing medical conditions.
Johnson added that the government would be putting a stop to overseas school trips.
He said: “This is not just an attempt to contain the disease but to delay its spread and minimise suffering.
“If we can delay the peaks the NHS will be in a stronger state. More beds available and more time for medical research.”
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The Prime Minister added: “At all stages, we have been guided by the science, we will do the right thing at the right time.
“The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time. But of course, we are keeping this under review and this could change as the disease spreads.”
Following the announcement that COVID-19 is now a pandemic, a number of cruise lines have temporarily put their sailings on pause.
These include Princess Cruises, which voluntarily halted its entire fleet of 18 ships from today until May 10 2020.
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Virgin Voyages has also announced it will be postponing its inaugural sailing from April to August 2020.
A spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association said: “The safety, health and well-being of passengers and crew remains the highest priority for CLIA and its cruise line members. The cruise industry has continued to evaluate the situation closely and enact new safety measures based on prevailing guidance from international health authorities. We are working with authorities to implement these new regulations, as we continue to put health and safety first.”
Cruise ships have been a point of concern after the Diamond Princess ship was placed into quarantine off the coast of Yokohama, Japan.
Following the first confirmed case on board, the virus rapidly spread to 696 passengers and killed seven people.
The government continue to urge Britons to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and utilise hand sanitiser.
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Despite the surge in the number of confirmed cases globally, the government has not yet warned people against all travel.
At present, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against “all but essential travel” to mainland China, Italy and South Korea.
Other travellers are advised to stay up-to-date with relevant information and keep an eye on their travel operators.
Multiple airlines have cancelled flights to certain regions, though there is not a global travel ban in place in the UK at the time of writi
Airlines including easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Wizz Air have halted journeys to Italy.
Italy is the most impacted region in Europe so far.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic and BA have also cancelled flights to mainland China.
Many airlines are allowing passengers to cancel or reschedule flights for free, though terms and conditions vary according to the operator.
The reason for cancellation is both to lessen the spread, but also largely due to lack of demand for travel at this time.
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