London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked people not to visit their families parents on Mothers Day as the coronavirus pandemic in the country was “accelerating”.
In a stark message to the country on Saturday, he said that the National Health Services (NHS) was in danger of being “overwhelmed” in the same way as Italy’s healthcare system unless people obeyed government advice on “social distancing”, reports the Metro newspaper.
Johnson said that while “everyone’s strongest instinct” was to visit their mother on Mother’s Day, the best single present they could give her was to stay away and spare her the risk of becoming infected.
“This time the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity. And why? Because if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus. We cannot disguise or sugarcoat the threat.”
Asked at his Downing Street press conference last week whether he would be seeing his own mother, 77-year-old Charlotte Johnson Wahl, the Prime Minister said that he would “certainly be sending her my very best wishes and hope to get to see her”.
A Downing Street source on Saturday clarified that his contact with his mother on Sunday would be confined to a conversation over Skype.
The warning came as Ministers urged the 1.5 million people the country considered to be most at risk from the most severe side effects of COVID-19 to begin “shielding” themselves by staying at home, said the Metro newspaper report.
Letters will go out to those concerned, “strongly advising” them not to go out for at least 12 weeks starting from Monday.
At the same time, the government announced a new local support system to ensure people self-isolating at home without the support of family or friends can get basic groceries delivered.
Military planners, already helping councils and local resilience forums in their responses to the outbreak, have been centrally involved in setting up the new network.
It follows the dramatic announcement on Friday that all pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres are to shut in the latest move to combat the disease.
The latest official figures showed the number of people across the UK who have died due to the coronavirus has increased to 233, with 53 more fatalities reported on Saturday in England, two in Wales and one in Scotland.
The number of confirmed cases stood at 5,067.