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Coronavirus: Prime minister to start giving daily televised briefings on Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 09:26 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:26 16 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a news conference inside 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA/Simon Dawson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a news conference inside 10 Downing Street. Picture: PA/Simon Dawson

PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson is to address the nation on the coronavirus threat after meeting ministers and officials to consider measures including banning mass gatherings and lengthy household isolation for the elderly.

Amid criticism over a lack of transparency, Downing Street has announced plans to hold daily televised press conferences - starting today, Monday - so either the PM or a senior minister can face scrutiny.

The prime minister will chair an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee on Monday afternoon before holding the first of the daily press conferences being planned to update the public on Covid-19.

On Sunday, health secretary Matt Hancock said over-70s could be told to stay at home for up to four months within the 'coming weeks'.

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Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which were passed last month, a person who is required to be kept in isolation can be taken there by a constable, with the use of 'reasonable force, if necessary'.

Failure to comply with restrictions, or absconding from isolation, is punishable with a fine of up to £1,000.

Mr Johnson is expected to discuss the isolation proposal, as well as banning mass gatherings and isolating entire households if one member shows symptoms, during the emergency meeting.

Meanwhile, the PM will also on Monday ask British manufacturers including the Unipart Group to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS, such as ventilators which are desperately in need.

And he will speak with all G7 leaders including US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss a co-ordinated global response to the pandemic.

Some in the scientific community have criticised the government for taking a slower and more relaxed response to the pandemic than other countries.

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