THE Army is ready to step in if the coronavirus crisis spirals out of control with barracks used as “quarantine zones”.
Plans for troops to be mobilised across Britain have been drawn up by the Ministry of Defence.
It comes as Boris Johnson is set to chair a COBRA meeting on coronavirus on Monday morning.
The PM has called the top-level security briefing in response to the deadly bug sweeping across Europe.
A No10 source told ITV there is a “need for the PM to make sure everything that can be done is being done”.
SCHOOL IS OUT
Panic is growing among parents as 40 schools have shut or turned pupils away across the country over coronavirus fears.
There are also plans to put ALL classrooms on lockdown and shut off public transport if the virus becomes a pandemic.
Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Witty said school closures could be key in "reducing mass gatherings".
He said: "Because one of the things that's clear with this virus, much more so than with the flu, is anything we do we're going to have to do for quite a long time – probably more than two months."
One school closed yesterday after a parent returned infected with coronavirus from a Tenerife hotel where 160 Brits are quarantined – in one of three new cases.
One of the things that's clear with this virus, much more so than with the flu, is anything we do we're going to have to do for quite a long time
And Northern Ireland confirmed its first positive test yesterday evening – bringing the total number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the UK to 19.
Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire sent out a WhatsApp alert warning people to stay away last night – as fears spread the deadly bug is taking hold in Britain.
The Derbyshire parent, thought to be a mum, had returned from the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife, where hundreds of people are in quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak.
PHE's medical director Prof Paul Cosford said schools had to take "difficult decisions given the complexity of the issues that they're facing".
He said: "Of course, schools have difficult decisions to take – a whole range of issues to take into account and we are able to talk to them about their specific circumstances and help them make the right decisions for them."
"But what I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools."
GRIPPING THE NATION
Coronavirus has seen a number of international events disrupted as the deadly bug grips Britain and Europe.
Ireland's Six Nations rugby clash against Italy was postponed yesterday amid virus fears as organisers said they were monitoring the situation "very closely".
The game was scheduled to take place in Dublin on March 7 with thousands of Italian supporters, many from the regions most affected by the outbreak, expected to make the trip.
The organisers of the London Marathon in April have also said they are monitoring the spread of the virus closely.
The number of people who tested positive for the illness in Italy is at 650.
Germany, which warned of an impending epidemic, has about 27 cases, France around 18 and Spain 15.
Coronavirus has caused nearly 80,000 infections and almost 2,800 deaths, according official Chinese figures.
It has spread to another 46 countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.
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