Coronavirus in the UK: How are people responding?

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Life in the UK has certainly changed in recent weeks as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. But how is the British public responding?

Mostly, with questions.

Should I be self-isolating? How will my travel plans be affected? How can I protect my and my family’s health? Will schools and offices close and big events be cancelled? How will I pay the bills if I have to self-isolate? What if I run out of basics?

And the public appetite for information from experts, rather than politicians, is increasing by the day.

Jill Allen, 76, who has heart problems and suffers from a long-term lung condition, wants to know whether she should stick with plans to travel to Spain for three weeks.

“I feel that going abroad is unwise, but until the authorities inform us of the situation in Spain, my tour operator will not cancel the holiday,” she says.

On Monday, the government said the UK would remain in the containment phase – not move to the next phase of bringing in measures to delay the virus’ spread with “social distancing”, as had been expected.

Marilyn Rodger, who is severely disabled and lives with her elderly parents, is worried that approach could mean she won’t get the care she needs.

“My dad, who is 96, regularly gets chest infections. So if he gets a cough, does he have to self-isolate? Does that mean I don’t get any carers coming [to] me?” she asks. “It’s very scary for us.”

But not everyone’s feeling despondent. “I am no fan of this government but BJ [Boris Johnson] has gone up in my estimation. Credit where credit is due – he is following the advice of experts!” writes @RoseEdmunds on Twitter.

For some, the worry is very real and immediate.

LH1987 writes on Mumsnet: “As a pregnant diabetic who takes trains to work every day, needless to say I am more than a little concerned.” Our BBC Reality Check colleagues have tried to answer worries around public transport.

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And a mother in Hertfordshire with emphysema and asthma tells the BBC she is “desperately worried” her eight-year-old daughter might become infected and is considering keeping her off school to self-isolate but fears she’ll be hit with a fine for non-attendance.

Others are sharing news of how they and their families are getting on at work.

One employee at a large UK insurance firm, who did not want to be named, says staff were told to go into the office unless it was absolutely necessary to stay at home and minor symptoms were not a reason to stay away.

The reason? The IT infrastructure could not handle everyone working remotely, he explains. For those working from home, our business team has compiled some tricks and tools.

For some, the financial implications are a cause for concern.

James Wilson, from Nuneaton, tells the BBC his employer will not pay him to stay away from work if he becomes “mildly ill”.

“I may be forced to attend work… or face falling behind on the mortgage and other bills,” he says.

Kev Bolus, a freelance sound mixer, says he has lost work from the end of February and is “deeply concerned” about how he and other self-employed workers will cope.

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Some are saying messages from the government and the airlines are at odds.

Gloria Palazzi, returning to the UK from Italy on a quarter-full BA flight, tells the BBC she had to stay on her plane for an extra 90 minutes after landing because of a coughing passenger.

Airport staff did not tell them to self-isolate but online government advice did.

The wash your hands message has been loud and clear but the instruction to stop touching our faces has been a struggle for many of us. @daoyu84000 has certainly had it on his mind:

After a weekend that saw toilet rolls, pasta and cleaning products flying off the shelves, there is still some concern around. In Oxford, @alycialeonard found the shelves bare:

Some are determined to look on the brighter side, like @RossHunterUK who counted just 15 people on his flight to Doha, Qatar’s capital, and suggested it might just be a good time to fly.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51815486

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