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UK Government outlines emergency measures to tackle coronavirus

Published on 09/03/20 at 11:52am
Photo by Creative Commons Zero

The British Government has outlined its emergency legislation to tackle coronavirus in which people could leave work to become volunteers to care for sufferers of the disease.

The measures include plans for courts to utilise video links to avoid people having to come in person to avoid the risk of spreading the disease. This emergency legislation will probably take the shape of a special COVID-19 bill.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, believes these emergency powers can be used to give NHS volunteers the employment safeguards they need to allow them to leave their main jobs and temporarily volunteer in the events of a widespread.

Commenting on the government’s approach, Hancock said: “We plan for the worst and work for the best, and the NHS is working 24/7 to fight this virus. Calls to NHS 111 have increased by more than a third and we have already put in place 500 extra staff to help with this increase. Every person has a role to play in managing the spread of COVID-19 – whether that’s washing your hands more often for 20 seconds or catching your sneezes.”

3 million people already work voluntarily in the health, community health and social care sectors. A Government source said last night: “In the event of a pandemic, we want to be able to maximise the number of volunteers and the amount of time they can commit to supporting the health and social care system without fear of them losing their jobs.

“Under these proposed measures, the government will ensure that the jobs of skilled, experience or qualified volunteers are protected for up to four weeks to allow them to shore up resilience across the health and social care systems. As part of this, leading business groups will be consulted thoroughly about how best to implement these changes.”

Today, the Government is also having an emergency meeting with sports governing bodies and broadcasters to determine whether larger sporting events should be played behind closed doors if the situation worsens. Another measure is banning over-70’s from attending large gatherings.

Cobra is also meeting Monday to discuss the country’s next steps, as reported cases of the virus rose to 206 on Sunday.  

Conor Kavanagh

 

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