Coronavirus live blog as it happened: latest as UK travellers urged to return home and PM to address nation on new measures

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 7:10 pm

Scroll down and read our coronavirus live blog as it happens.

Before you do that here are some articles offering practical advice:

Signs in a coffee shop in Main Street Fort William as people are asked to stop travelling to the Scottish Highlands in a bid to avoid spreading the coronavirus (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

We will be providing live updates until 7pm this evening.

Coronavirus live blog, March 23

Last updated: Monday, 23 March, 2020, 19:03

  • Latest figures show 5,683 confirmed cases in the UK, with 335 deaths
  • Schools across the UK will not open today as shutdown continues
  • Government considers imposing stricture social distancing measures as crowds flock to beaches and parks over the weekend

Priti Patel condemns mass gatherings

Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the high numbers of people who went out to parks and more rural areas at the weekend, despite Government instructions to social-distance.

She said: "It is not acceptable. The Government could not have been clearer that in order to save lives and to protect the public during this public health emergency, it is right that we practise social distancing in the way in which the Government has outlined, the Government is reinforcing, the chief medical officer and many others are reinforcing day in, day out.

"And with that, we ask the public to take responsibility and of course there are enforcement measures now in place through an SI (statutory instrument) that was put in place over the weekend when it comes to places of social gatherings and pubs and clubs and cafes for example."

Number of deaths in English rises by 46

The number of deaths in England caused by coronavirus has risen to 303 and 24-hour increase of 46. 

Cornavirus pandemic is accelerating

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating. 

He said: “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”

PM will address nation later this evening

Press Association have just reported that the Prime Minister's press briefing will not take place in it's "usual format" or at 5pm. 

The Prime Minister first week of press briefings all took place between 5pm and 6pm, but a spokeswoman for Number 10 told us that the briefing would not take place until early evening.

Italy death toll continues to climb

The number of confirmed cases in Italy has climbed over 70,000, with the death toll rising to 6,078.

Boris Johnson contact Chinese President for advice

Boris Johnson has sought information from China's President Xi Jinping about the most effective public health methods to tackle the coronavirus, Downing Street has said.

A No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister spoke to Chinese President Xi today about the coronavirus pandemic.

"The two leaders resolved to work to ensure knowledge about the most effective public health measures is shared between countries.

"The Prime Minister and President agreed on the wider need for ongoing international cooperation, particularly through the G20, to share expertise, support the global economic system and strengthen the ability of vulnerable countries to tackle the virus.

"The Prime Minister stressed the need to support the WHO's (World Health Organisation) appeal and support vaccine development through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations."

Former Health Secretary calls for lockdown

Conservative former health secretary Jeremy Hunt backed an immediate lockdown.

He criticised those people going to parks and beaches "as if nothing has changed", telling MPs: "We must move to lockdown rules now that ban non-essential travel.

"It's time not just to ask people to do social distancing but enforce social distancing rules."

7,500 retired medical professionals return to NHS

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that more than 7,500 retired health professionals have volunteered to return to work in the NHS. 

Addressing the House of Commons he said: "I want to pay tribute to every single one of them."

UK travellers overseas urged to return home

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has strongly urged UK travellers who are still overseas to return home now, while there are still commercial routes available to do so.

Mr Raab said: "Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice.

"Where commercial routes don't exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals.  

“If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can."

Boris Johnson to address the nation this evening

The Prime Minister is to address the nation later this evening at 8.30pm, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has said.

The usual daily press conference at 5pm was delayed tonight due to a COBRA meeting. Boris Johnson is now expected to speak later tonight.

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