Rapidly developing health and safety measures to protect against the coronavirus could see mass gatherings being banned in the UK from early as next weekend to minimise the spread of COVID-19. 
In the last few days, the intensification of the virus has seen the suspension of the English Premier League, as well as cancellation of other major sporting and cultural events due to the pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed preventative measures for UK citizens to follow on Wednesday in a formal announcement, but has now taken a U-turn and propagated a self-imposed lockdown. The Prime Minister has faced criticism for the Government’s handling of the situation in comparison to other countries. The former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the initial decision to not cancel large gatherings was “concerning”. Sir Patrick Vallance called the latest government advice a “big intervention”.
On Friday, the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 798 – a rise of 208 compared to Thursday – of which 11 have died. Ten more people had died in the UK in 24 hours taking the death toll to 21.
Professors Chris Whitty said all of the latest to pass away were over the age of 60, in the “at-risk” group.
“I understand this increase in the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 will be a cause for concern for many. The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.” 
The Government now estimates the true number of cases to be in the region of around 5,000 to 10,000.
Health ministers are working behind the scenes to stop various types of public events:
“There are many complex considerations to make all these measures as effective as possible.”
“We will make the right decisions at the right time based on the best scientific evidence.”
It is thought that a ban could start to take effect as early as next weekend, although exact timescales are not clear.
To further help reduce the spread of infection, a British company has developed a rapid diagnostic self-testing kit for COVID-19 – the first in the country, according to Channel 4 news.
The company said it can obtain results in around 10 minutes, in comparison to the 4-hour time taken by the NHS. The new kit works in the same way that blood sugar is tested, by using a pin prick on a patient’s thumb.
The kits will be distributed for use by healthcare professionals next week, and to the general public within three weeks. Due to the demand, the company have requested for their name and location to remain anonymous.
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