Published: 17:38, 17 March 2020
| Updated: 21:31, 17 March 2020
Loans totalling £330 billion have been set up by the government in an attempt to stop businesses from going bust due to the coronavirus.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak says support on an "unimaginable scale" is necessary to save the economy in Kent and other parts of the country from collapse.
"The government will stand behind businesses small and large," he said during a daily briefing at Downing Street.
"I can announce today an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support loans to get businesses through this.
"Today I am making available an additional £330 billion pounds of guarantees - equivalent to 15% of our GDP.
"That means any business which needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, their suppliers, or purchase stock will be able to access a government-backed loan or credit on attractive terms.
"And if demand is greater than the initial £330bn, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
"That support will be delivered through two main schemes - to support liquidity among larger firms I have agreed a new lending facility with the governor of the Bank of England to provide low-cost, easily accessible, commercial paper.
"To support lending to small and medium-size businesses, I'm extending the new 'business interruption loan scheme' I announced at the Budget last week so rather than loans at £1.2 million, it will now provide loans of up to £5 million pounds with no interest due for the first six months.
"Both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week."
The chancellor added support packages for airports and airlines would be discussed in the coming days.
His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We may have to go further and faster" to save lives in the coming days.
"We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support the economy," he said.
In Kent, 14 cases have been confirmed. The first was discovered at Maidstone studios on March 2. The second case was a person who was known to the person involved in the first case.
Two cases in Medway forced a two-day closure of St John Fisher for a deep clean.
The death toll across the UK has now reached 71 - with the government's chief scientific adviser saying 20,000 coronavirus deaths would be a "good outcome".
More by this authorGeoffrey Bew