Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, on 17 March 2020.
I want to go through our overall plan for beating this new coronavirus.
First, we must stop the disease spreading to a point where it overwhelms our NHS. Every country in the world has the same problem.
This is a disease that is so dangerous and so infectious that without drastic measures to check its progress it would overwhelm any health system in the world.
I have used the Italian health system, it is excellent, and the problem is not the health system, it’s the numbers of sufferance.
That is why we announced the steps yesterday that we did – advising against all unnecessary contact – steps that are unprecedented since World War 2.
They will have an effect on the spread of the disease.
The shielding of vulnerable groups will also reduce suffering, and I want to thank everybody at this stage for what we’re all doing to follow this advice.
I stress that although the measures announced are already extreme, we may well have to go further and faster in the coming days to protect lives and the NHS.
Secondly, we are doing all we can and as quickly as we can to increase the capacity of the NHS. That means more testing, more beds, more ventilators and more trained staff. It means greater support for NHS and other staff. And it means much better data and much better technology.
Third, we must do all we can to boost science and research. We must study this disease, test drugs that already exist and have been through medical trials to see what helps treat severe cases, and search for a vaccine. Fourth, we must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy. That’s the main purpose of this press conference this afternoon.
We must support millions of businesses and tens of millions of families and individuals through the coming months. And to do that the government machine must and will respond with a profound sense of urgency. Thousands of brilliant officials are already working round the clock but we must do more and faster. The Chancellor will be saying much more about this in a moment, with further announcements in the coming days.
Fifth, we will need to strengthen other public services that will be under great pressure from the direct and indirect effects of the disease, such as the effects of staff shortages, and from the economic pressures. All institutions will be under great pressure and we will therefore invest hugely in the people that we all rely on, and again I want to thank all our public servants for what they are already doing.
Ultimately, to beat this crisis we will need a combination of better science, technology, medicine, data, government operations, economic support, learning from other countries and social support. As time goes on we will learn more and more about the disease and the effects of our actions. And while we need national unity, we also need international cooperation. And although we now need to impose physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for each other.
Yes this enemy can be deadly, but it is also beatable – and we know how to beat it and we know that if as a country we follow the scientific advice that is now being given we know that we will beat it.
And however tough the months ahead we have the resolve and the resources to win the fight.
And, to repeat, this government will do whatever it takes.
I will now handover for more on that to Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.