LONDON, March 16 (Xinhua) -- With COVID-19 cases having exceeded 1,500 in the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called on people to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.
At a press conference, Johnson said that, without "drastic action", the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK could double every five or six days.
He laid out a series of updated recommendations to the public, including: if one person in any household starts to display symptoms, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days; people should start working from home where they possibly can; avoid social venues such as pubs, clubs, theaters, etc.; only use the NHS (National Health Service) when one really needs to.
The prime minister also said that in the coming days it will be necessary to "go further" and to ensure that those with the most serious health conditions are largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.
People over the age of 70, other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine and pregnant women are those who should take particular care to minimize their social contact, according to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England Professor Chris Whitty.
As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Britain reached 1,543, an increase of 171 over the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care.
So far 55 people positive for the virus in the UK have died, according to the department.
The government also published updated COVID-19 industry guidance, which provides important information for specific sectors, including schools and transport.
The UK has provided 50 million pounds (around 61 million U.S. dollars) for the Center for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is leading the global research and development of a vaccine, 25 million pounds (around 31 million dollars) for further research into the virus including to develop a rapid test, and 10 million pounds (around 12 million dollars) for the World Health Organization's flash appeal for the outbreak, according to the government.
The British government announced last Thursday that the country has switched from the "containment" phase to "delay" in response to the spread of virus in the country, a move to encourage more "social distancing" among Britons.
UK's plan to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak includes four phases -- containment, delay, research and mitigate.
In the delay phase, the government will ramp up efforts to delay the spread of COVID-19, aiming to lower the peak impact of the novel coronavirus and push it away from the winter season.