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PM Johnson tells UK: Stay apart or face tougher measures

LONDON: Britain may need to impose curfews and travel restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus if people do not heed the government's advice on social distancing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday.

Pubs, clubs and gyms have already closed, but social media on Sunday was awash with pictures of people congregating in parks and food markets, apparently ignoring advice to stay 2m apart.

Parks in London are already closing down as authorities struggle to slow the advance of the coronavirus through the population, the biggest public health crisis since the influenza pandemic of 1918.

So far 281 Britons have died from the virus.

The spiralling number of infections means Mr Johnson is in a race against time to prevent a repeat of the tragedy in other countries, including Italy where the death toll reached 5,476 on Sunday.

Mr Johnson was blunt as he delivered his message to the public. "Stay two metres apart. It's not such a difficult thing. Do it," he said.

CURFEWS

"Otherwise... there is going to be no doubt that we will have to bring forward further measures and we are certainly keeping that under constant review."

Mr Johnson said tougher measures such as curfews needed to be timed right for maximum impact.

"After all, when the epidemic is hardly spreading at all that's not the moment to impose curfews and prohibitions on movement and so on and so forth," he said.

"You've got to wait until, alas, it's the right moment to do it and that's always been how we've been guided."

The latest official statistics show the number of confirmed cases rose to 5,683 on Sunday, up from 5,018 on Saturday - a more rapid increase than in either China or Italy at the same stage, according to a Sky News analysis.

In a separate development, Italy banned travel within the country on Sunday in yet another attempt to slow the spread, with data showing a further 651 people had died from the disease, lifting the number of fatalities to 5,476.

It has more than 59,000 infections.  - REUTERS

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