People over 70 in the UK could be told to self-isolate for four months in a bid to combat the coronavirus.
21 people have died from the virus in Britain with more than 1,000 confirmed cases.
With the disease spreading rapidly, it’s been said the government is likely to put new “wartime-style” plans in place within the next 20 days.
According to ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston, the elderly may have to be quarantined for months even if they don’t have coronavirus symptoms.
The drastic measure is reportedly part of a series of actions by the Prime Minister, health secretary, chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to prevent the health service from “falling over”.
It’s been claimed the measures are due to be announced by Downing Street.
Other measures include making hotels and other buildings temporary hospitals, making private hospitals emergency ones, temporary closing pubs, bars and restaurants and closure of schools for a few weeks.
There could also be emergency manufacture by several companies of respirators that would be “necessary to keep alive those who become acutely ill”.
The PM Boris Johnson has faced criticism for being too slow to act against the virus compared to the rest of Europe.
Italy, Spain, Ireland, Poland and Denmark are among the growing list of countries on lockdown.
Everything is aimed at making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed.
A senior government source told ITV News that medical and scientific advisers have said restrictive policies should be enforced at the optimal time in order to work effectively.
The source said the chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance are “deeply worried” that some older people will die at home from neglect if they are made to self-isolate too early.
The insider added to ITV News: “We are looking for a huge community effort.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings has also initiated conversations with Uber and Deliveroo about taking food to the elderly and vulnerable if they are put into forced isolation.
“Everything is aimed at making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed, to save lives and to prevent hideous choices having to be made,” the source added.
On Saturday (March 14), NHS England confirmed that the death toll in the UK had hit 21 after 10 more people died.
All of the patients were aged in their 70s and over and had underlying health conditions, chief medical officer Prof Whitty said.
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