The UK government has published an action plan for dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The plans say that police could be reduced to just dealing with very serious crimes and maintaining public order in the event of a major coronavirus pandemic in the UK. The NHS could also be closed to all but critical care patients, and the army may be drafted in to maintain public order if necessary.
The document released on Tuesday highlights plans for a “reasonable worst case (RWC)” scenario. The extent to which the virus outbreak will impact the UK does, of course, remain uncertain.
Four phases of the plan to respond to COVID-19 are set out, including;
The UK is currently within the containment stages of the plan. There are currently more than 90,000 cases of the virus around the world and more than 3,000 deaths. In the UK, there are currently 51 confirmed cases of the virus.
The battle plan does not predict how many people could be infected if a coronavirus epidemic hit the UK, but ministers have confirmed there could be an increase in deaths from the current outbreak. According to reports, four out of five people could contract the virus, and one in five workers could be absent during the weeks when the virus peaked.
So far, evidence has suggested that those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly may be most at risk.
The public is advised to continue to follow advice from Public Health England.