The Government have long had contingency plans in place for the possibility of an influenza pandemic and due to the similar nature of influenza to COVID-19, some of those principles can be applied to this situation.
The UK Government has released an action plan to handle the COVID-19 outbreak which includes a four-phase plan for how to deal with the virus.
This phase has been put into motion already by the Government. Its purpose is to detect early cases of COVID-19 and prevent the virus from turning into an outbreak for as long as it is possible.
The NHS and other public health agencies have put procedures in place to detect and isolate cases in the UK and have been provided with highly trained staff while medicines and protective equipment have been stockpiled.
Direct flights into the UK required all passengers to undergo and pass medical examinations before they boarded.
Power was given to medical professionals and the police to quarantine people who may be infected to prevent them from spreading the virus.
During this time, the Government ensured that a campaign was started to ensure everybody from medical professionals to members of the public had as much information as possible about the virus; this included identifying symptoms and what to do if you feel ill.
By this point, the Government has already stated we will be moving into phase two soon.
Now that the UK is past the containment phase, the next job is to slow down the spread of the virus around the country while trying to lessen the impact an outbreak may have on people and business.
The Government advice to wash your hands regularly for twenty seconds has been the main method to try and prevent as many people as possible catching the virus.
The hope is that even though an outbreak may be inevitable, the delay phase can prevent the outbreak until the summer months where hospitals are not as busy as the flu season that occurs in winter should be over.
Ultimately, COVID-19 is a virus which has no specific treatment to cure it so research is needed to tackle the problem.
The Government is working with various health and medical research agencies and has pumped £40 million towards research into the virus itself, drugs to mitigate the symptoms and research into possible vaccines to provide immunity against the virus.
This phase is aimed at protecting those who have fallen ill and giving them access to the services they require.
It is also aimed at supporting hospitals so that hospitals can continue offering a service to those who have contracted COVID-19.
It is a plan to protect people but also to protect public services and the UK economy. If the outbreak brings businesses to a halt or if businesses suffer financially, the Government is preparing for this too. Click here for plans to support businesses and employers.