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UK to switch 'Stay At Home' Covid-19 message to 'Stay Alert'

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The UK is set to modify its Stay At Home social distancing message to curb the spread of coronavirus to Stay Alert as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to deliver a key address to the nation later on Sunday.

As part of an alert system to be unveiled, the threat level from coronavirus will be ranked on a scale of one to five with alerts ranging from green (level one) to red (level five) and adjusted according to data, akin to the UK's terror threat levels system.

"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," said UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

But Opposition Labour's 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 the government about what the advice is. There is no room for nuance," he told the BBC.

"The problem with the new message is that many people will be puzzled by it," he said.

The alert system, 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.

It will be enforced in England, with the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales to put their own alerts in place by largely following a UK-wide format.

Jenrick said the UK government's "strong preference" was for the devolved nations "to move as one".

As part of the test, track and trace phase, a contact tracing app being trialled on the Isle of Wight region of England and downloaded by about 50,000 people will also form a key part of the government's strategy to tackle the pandemic as the lockdown measures are gradually eased.

In his much anticipated speech at 1900 local time, Johnson is set to warn the country that the UK is entering the most "dangerous" phase of the battle against the virus.

"Mountaineers always say that coming down from the peak is the most dangerous bit. That's when you're liable to be over-confident and make mistakes... you have to make sure you don't run too fast, lose control and stumble," he told The Sun on Sunday'.

The UK enforced its Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives message as part of the strict social distancing measures imposed to manage the pressure on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) with a televised address by Johnson on March 23.

Since then, the UK PM tested positive for the coronavirus and had to be hospitalised in intensive care for a few days as his symptoms worsened.

He has since been back at Parliament and pledged to lay out a comprehensive roadmap to unlock the economy, which has remained in near-shutdown as shops, businesses and schools remain closed as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed over 31,000 lives in the UK.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, May 10 2020. 18:32 IST