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Coronavirus Kent: Schools could close and events may be cancelled

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The Government will today step up its response to the coronavirus crisis, paving the way for home working, school closures and the cancellation of major events.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to rubber-stamp moving to the next stage of the UK's action plan when he chairs a Cobra meeting today

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It raises the prospect of school closures, bans on public gatherings - including major sporting events - home working and a scaling back of non-urgent hospital operations.

The move comes as US President Donald Trump banned all flights from mainland Europe to the States for a period of 30 days.

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee at lunchtime, and is expected to rubber-stamp a decision to move to from the 'contain' phase of the response to 'delay'.

It is not thought there will be immediate school closures or cancellations of events, but health secretary Matt Hancock hopes to pass legislation next week to enable those measures.

In Kent there are now five confirmed cases of the virus and a further two reported in Medway.

The number of coronavirus patients in the UK rose by 87 to 460 on Wednesday, the biggest daily increase to date, and deaths in the UK rose to eight.

Many companies in Kent have already implemented bans on non-essential travel while others are encouraging home working.

Some of the UK's biggest outdoor events are also expected to fall victim to the crisis. In the US, the giant Coachella festival has been cancelled.
Most Kent organisations say they are preparing as normal until told otherwise. Gillingham say there are no major changes planned for this weekend's game at home to Fleetwood.

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