Britain's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, Oct. 21, 2019. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)
The government is currently in the "contain" phase but has plans in place should a pandemic take hold and warned people not to overreact.
LONDON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday the country has a "clear four-part plan" to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.
In a statement made in the House of Commons, the health secretary said as of Wednesday morning a total of 7,132 people in the country have been tested for the virus. So far 13 people were confirmed positive, of whom eight now have been discharged from hospital.
But the government expects more cases to arise, he said, adding that it has a four-point strategy for dealing with the outbreak.
"We have a clear four part plan to respond to the outbreak of this disease: contain, delay, research and mitigate. We're taking all necessary measures to minimize the risk to the public. We've put in place enhanced monitoring measures at UK airports and health information is available at all international airports, ports and international train stations," he said.
People wait outside the arrivals of Heathrow Airport in London, Britain on Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua)
He added that a supported isolation facility has been established at Heathrow airport to cater for international passengers who are tested.
The government is currently in the "contain" phase but has plans in place should a pandemic take hold and warned people not to overreact, he said, urging schools to stay open.
He advised people to only travel to the quarantined areas in Italy if their travel is essential and people who have been anywhere in northern Italy to self-isolate if they have symptoms on their return.
Public Health England has said it is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.
"Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing. What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools," said the organisation's medical director, Paul Cosford.
At least a dozen British schools have sent staff and pupils home for a 14-day quarantine after they returned from half-term trips in northern Italy. ■