Coronavirus sign in LondonImage copyrightAFP

The decision to delay closing schools and introduce other strict measures to combat coronavirus has been defended by England’s deputy chief medical officer.

Dr Jenny Harries said experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a “balanced response”.

She told BBC Breakfast new measures could follow as UK cases begin to rise rapidly over the next two weeks.

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In the UK, five people with the virus have died. There were 319 confirmed cases as of 09:00 GMT on Monday.

Dr Harries said the vast majority of those diagnosed with coronavirus in Britain are “pretty well” but that they may “feel a bit rough for a few days”.

She added that people with flu-like symptoms will be advised to self-isolate within 10 to 14 days and, at the same time, significant increases in the number of cases are likely to begin.

Dr. Harries said canceling big outdoor events like football matches would not necessarily be a decision supported by science.

“The virus will not survive very long outside,” she said. “Many outdoor events, particularly, are relatively safe.”

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In other developments:

  • The UK Foreign Office warned Britons against all but essential travel to Italy after the country was placed on lockdown
  • Italian tourists have been told to self-isolate on arrival in Britain as several UK airlines canceled flights to and from Italian airports
  • Royal Bank of Scotland said it would allow customers to defer mortgage payments if needed
  • The NHS partnered with technology firms to help promote official health advice online
  • And new research showed that, on average, it took five days for people to show symptoms of the virus

Italy’s extended quarantine measures require residents to stay home, seek permission for essential travel, and justify leaving the country.

British Airways has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy on Tuesday, while Easyjet cancelled the majority of its flights to and from Milan, Venice and Verona.

BA said customers due to fly to or from Italy before 4 April can rebook to a later date until the end of May, move their destination to Geneva or Zurich, or receive a full refund.

Jet2 said it has cancelled all flights to and from six airports across Italy until 26 April.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The advice is that anyone who arrives from Italy subsequent to the Italian government decision should now self-isolate for 14 days.”

Downing Street said Italians arriving in the UK were being given the same advice as Britons to self-isolate and that the government had facilities available to accommodate them.

Media captionSteps the NHS says you should take to protect yourself from Covid-19

The NHS has unveiled a range of measures as part of its response to try to stop fake news being spread about coronavirus on the internet.

Searches for “coronavirus” on Google, Facebook and YouTube will now promote information from the National Health Service or the World Health Organization.

The NHS said it had worked with Twitter to take down an account claiming to be a hospital and spreading false information, while it is also speaking out against homeopaths promoting false treatments online.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the actions meant the public could access accurate health information “which is more crucial than ever as we continue our response to coronavirus”.

The UK is currently in the first phase – “containment” – of the government’s four-part plan.

On Monday, health officials said people who showed “even minor” signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever would – within the next 14 days – be told to self-isolate for a week in an effort to tackle the outbreak.

The UK government has also announced it is to extend shop delivery hours to ensure that supermarkets have basic items, amid stockpiling concerns.

The environment department, Defra, said by allowing night-time deliveries – currently restricted to avoid disturbing locals – stock would be able to move more quickly from warehouses to shelves.

Media captionCoronavirus: “We didn’t see daylight for days” on ship

Meanwhile, US authorities are expected to fly home Britons who were on board the virus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship later, according to the Foreign Office.

There were 142 British people on the ship, which spent five days stranded off the coast of California.

However, one of the Britons on board, Jackie Bissell, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she had yet to hear from the ship’s captain about her departure.

“They haven’t said anything about when we can go,” she said. “It’s very unnerving to be left out here when we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Elsewhere, crowds exceeding 60,000 are expected on all four days of horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday afternoon.

It comes after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said there was no reason to cancel such events due to coronavirus, although many other sporting fixtures, including the Six Nations and Formula One, have been affected.

Three images giving government advice: Wash your hands, Use a tissue for coughs, avoid touching your face

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