Coronavirus has left Boris Johnson ‘haunted’ knowing it will ‘define’ his legacy
Boris Johnson has been left looking "haunted" by the rapidly worsening outbreak of coronavirus across the UK as he realises the decisions he takes now will define his time in office, insiders allege.
The PM has been criticised for advocating a less urgent approach to shutting outlets and banning large-scale events than countries in Europe.
Today, the number of deaths in the UK soared to 35, up 14 in a day, while the number of cases has risen to 1,391.
The Prime Minister has reportedly emphasised to his inner circle the need to be seen to be taking action, following last week's charges of "complacency".
“They aren’t enjoying this much,” one colleague of the prime minister and his team told the Sunday Times . “They look haunted. They know his entire premiership will be defined by the decisions they make.”
Last week, Mr Johnson delivered an astonishingly sobering message to the public, saying he had to "level" with people that "many more loved ones will die" as a result of coronavirus.
They reportedly fear a second wave of infections this winter could lead to even more fatalities, so are keen to be taking action as public opinion demands more action is taken amid fears of an Italy-style fallout.
According to one Government source, this includes banning mass gatherings – secretly regarded by decision-makers as a "marginal" move: "Stopping mass gatherings may not do much good but it has very little downside."
The Premier League and EFL suspended all football until April last week, while other top sporting events were axed, but this went against the official government advice, which was to allow them to continue in the face of similar measures being taken on the continent.
Another source told the Sunday Times: "Some people seem to be under the misapprehension that we can stop it. That ship has sailed globally. What we need to do is mitigate and safeguard as many people as possible."
An unnamed Tory MP said the Prime Minister fears the potential backlash at home if Covid-19 claims more UK lives than lives abroad, while another remarked: "The problem is that it is Tory voters who will be dying."
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said people aged over 70 will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months, in order to protect them from the virus.
Asked if that time frame was in the Government's plan, he told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "That is in the action plan, yes, and we will be setting it out with more detail when it is the right time to do so, because we absolutely appreciate that it is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable, and it's for their own self-protection."
Pressed on when the measure will be introduced, he said: "Certainly in the coming weeks, absolutely."
Mr Hancock added: "The measures that we're taking, the measures that we're looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus."
He also confirmed that ministers were seeking to give police powers to arrest and forcibly quarantine people who are sick with the virus but are not self-isolating.
"We are going to take the powers to make sure that we can quarantine people if they are a risk to public health, yes, and that's important," he told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.
"I doubt that actually we will need to use it much, because people have been very responsible."
It has been reported tonight that Brits face being detained for for refusing to self-isolate or £1,000 fines .
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