Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to launch Covid-19 alert system

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A Covid-19 alert system is set to be launched by the government in England to track the virus, the prime minister is expected to announce on Sunday.

The system will rank the threat level from coronavirus on a scale of one to five and be adjusted according to data.

Boris Johnson is due to update the UK on the progress of lockdown measures in a televised address at 19:00 BST.

The PM is expected to unveil a new slogan, telling the public to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

What to watch for in the PM’s coronavirus speech
He is not expected to provide exact dates for when the restrictions – first announced on 23 March – might change.

The new system will apply to England only but the government is working with the devolved administrations as they develop their own.

It is understood the system – with alerts ranging from green (level one) to red (level five) – will be similar to the one used to keep the public informed about the terror threat level.

Mr Johnson is expected to say England is currently at stage four but moving towards stage three.

New slogan ‘needs clarity’
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it was the right time to “update and broaden” the message to the public from “stay at home” to “stay alert”.

“Stay alert will mean stay alert by staying home as much as possible, but stay alert when you do go out by maintaining social distancing, washing your hands, respecting others in the workplace and the other settings that you’ll go to,” he said.

But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the government must clarify what the new slogan means.

“When you’re dealing with a public health crisis of this nature you need absolute clarity from government about what the advice is. There is no room for nuance,” he told Marr.

“The problem with the new message is that many people will be puzzled by it,” he added.
The alert tool – to be administered by a new “joint biosecurity centre” – will reflect the virus threat in different parts of the country, meaning the threat level in one city could differ quite widely from another.

This could inform the local alteration of restrictions in England.

A meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee involving the cabinet, devolved nations and the mayor of London will be held before Mr Johnson’s televised address on Sunday evening, with the plans to be put before Parliament on Monday.

Mr Jenrick said the UK government’s “strong preference” was for the devolved nations “to move as one”.

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