Coronavirus: Government making 'serious mistake' in not taking more action, says Rory Stewart
'Schools should be shut now.... all medium and large gatherings should be cancelled', said the former Tory leadership contender
Criticism of the Government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak ramped-up as a fifth person died from Covid-19 and the number of confirmed cases passed 300.
The latest fatality was of a patient in their seventies, who was unwell with a number of significant and long-term health conditions, and has passed away at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. Meanwhile, the fourth fatality was of a patient in their 70s with underlying health conditions who was being treated at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital. Officials said it appears the virus was acquired in the UK. Almost 25,000 people have now been tested for the coronavirus with 319 positive cases, the Department of Health said. Some 18 people have recovered.
Public Health England (PHE) said it continues to trace close contacts of anybody diagnosed with Covid-19 in the containment phase, advising them to self-isolate at home to delay the spread of the virus. The Government's action plan for the disease has three separate stages - contain, delay and mitigate - alongside a research programme.
Moving to the next stage, an attempt to delay the spread of the outbreak, would mean that social distancing measures - such as restricting public gatherings and more widespread advice to stay at home - could be brought in.
Former Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart accused the Government of making a "serious mistake" in its containment strategy and said it should be acting "much more aggressively".
Mr Stewart, a former International Development Secretary who is now standing to become Mayor of London as an independent, said: "Schools should be shut now.... all medium and large gatherings should be cancelled. All passengers coming from hotspots should be tested and quarantined. There is no excuse for passengers not being tested off a plane from Milan last night.