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Downing Street to give daily TV briefings on outbreak

Downing Street to give daily TV briefings on outbreak
16.03.2020
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The government is to hold daily televised press conferences to update the public on the fight against coronavirus, Downing Street has said.

From Monday, Boris Johnson or a senior minister will address the media to ensure people are informed about how to protect themselves.

It follows criticism of No 10 for an apparent lack of transparency over its plans to stem the spread of the virus.

A total of 35 people have died in the UK after contracting Covid-19.

The briefing later will follow another meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee, chaired by the prime minister, where further decisions could be made on actions to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Sir Keir Starmer, a candidate to become the next Labour Party leader, had called for a “daily press conference” over the virus to improve transparency.

He said he was “deeply concerned” that “ministers have been failing in their responsibilities to provide consistent and transparent public health advice”.

The announcement of daily updates comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the over-70s will soon be asked to stay at home for an extended period to protect themselves.

Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they would still be able to go for a walk outside.

“It’s about being sensible but not mixing in crowds,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the government is “committed” to keeping the public informed about what it is doing to fight the spread of the virus, and will always be led by science to “bring forward the right responses at the right time”.

Mr Johnson will host the press conference on Monday, alongside Prof Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The PM or a senior minister will then hold each subsequent daily briefing, and answer media questions, while supported by a range of medical and scientific experts, No 10 said.

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