Boris Johnson Warns Coronavirus Will Cause 'Substantial Disruption'

Polls suggest the public believe the prime minister handling the outbreak well – so far.

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Substantial Disruption

Boris Johnson announced £46m of funding to help produce a “life changing and life saving” vaccine for coronavirus today. The prime minister said people should prepare for a “substantial period of disruption” to their lives. The same applies to No.10′s best laid plans ahead of next week’s Budget.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK is 163. And the department of health said 20,000 people have now been tested. The number of confirmed cases around the globe has now surpassed 100,000.

The prime minister, who last week was accused of being a “part time” by Jeremy Corbyn, has been much more visible as concern grows about the outbreak.

Downing Street will likely be reassured by the YouGov survey which showed 49% of people - including a quarter of Labour voters - think the PM is handling the outbreak well, compared to 32% who think he is handling it badly. But as Chris Curtis from the pollster pointed out today, it’s “easy to look prime ministerial at the start of the crisis, harder to sustain”.

Coverage of next week’s Budget, which was supposed to set out Johnson’s plans for the “levelling up” of the country, is also likely to be dominated by measures to help cope with the outbreak. Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS think-tank, told Chopper’s Politics podcast warned there was a “serious chance of a technical recession” if coronavirus “really takes”

Johnson said today while the Budget was “big opportunity”, it would also have to focus ondealing with this particular challenge”.

The PM was visiting scientists at the Mologic lab in Bedfordshire today. There is currently no vaccine available to protect people against Covid-19, but Johnson said he hoped one will be ready in about a year.


Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, who everyone is getting to know quite well, said this morning the UK “will not have a vaccine available for the first wave” of a pandemic, but that it is still important to develop one for any future waves.

Downing Street said the UK’s investment into Covid-19 vaccine research is now worth £65 million, with £91 million in total for international work to stop the spread of the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) meanwhile is urging members of the public to “plan ahead” in case they had to self-isolate for a couple of weeks.

PHE said more people may be asked to self-isolate at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus, while “social distancing” measures such as not going to cinemas, pubs or sporting events may be needed in the future.

It came after Matt Hancock sought to reassure the public following panic-buying in some areas, with supermarkets seeing their shelves cleared of essentials such as toilet roll and paracetamol. The health secretary used his appearance on BBC Question Time last night to try and reassure people there “won’t be a problem” with food supplies.

Quote Of The Day

- New York Times’ Mara Gay after a video of her agreeing that Michael Bloomberg could have given every American one million dollars with the five hundred million dollars he spent on his campaign.

Friday Cheat Sheet

Former home secretary Amber Rudd urged Oxford University students to “stop hiding and start engaging” after she was “no-platformed” 30 minutes before she was due to speak at an event about women in politics.

Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of his first Commons rebellion since the general election over his decision to allow Huawei a role in building the UK’s 5G network. The Commons defence committee has also announced it is launching an inquiry.

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