The coronavirus pandemic in the UK is set to last for a year, according to analysis from top scientists.

The official Government report, which has been signed off by bosses at Public Health England (PHE), has been shared with senior hospital staff and doctors in the NHS in England.

Accoriding to a report by The Guardian, the document was drawn up in recent days by PHE’s emergency preparedness and response team, and claims as many as 80 per cent of the population in the UK will become infected with the coronavirus in the next year.

The report adds that nearly eight million people could be hospitalised as a result of Covid-19.

It has since been approved as accurate by Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s lead official dealing with the outbreak.

What has reaction been to the official report?

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told The Guardian: “For the public to hear that it could last for 12 months, people are going to be really upset about that and pretty worried about that.

“A year is entirely plausible. But that figure isn’t well appreciated or understood.

“I think it will dip in the summer, towards the end of June, and come back in November, in the way that usual seasonal flu does.

"I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up.”

What is the latest advice on the coronavirus from the Government?

Most people in society have been asked to change their day-to-day lives in some way. It will particularly affect people over the age of 70, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions.

Boris Johnson said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.”

The Prime Minister urged people to stay away from pubs, clubs, theatres and “other such social venues”.

Where possible, people should work from home.

He added that mass gatherings would no longer be supported by emergency workers.

What should you do if you have symptoms of coronavirus?

  • 'Whole household isolation': If one person in a house has symptoms, including a continuous cough or fever, the whole family should stay at home for 14 days. They should avoid even going to the shops to get essentials, the Prime Minister said. People should only go out for exercise and ensure they do not come into contact with people while doing so.
  • 'Self isolation': The period of self-isolation for people who live on their own remains at seven days.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, said: “If you are ill with symptoms of the new, persistent cough or fever you isolate for seven days. If you lived on your own, that’s what you would do.

“Now what we’re saying is if anybody in the household gets it, the whole household stays together isolated for 14 days. The reason for that is the other people may pick it up over five days or seven days and then they’ve got seven days to have it and get better.”

What does it mean for vulnerable people?

In coming days, everyone classed as vulnerable will be asked to ensure they are “largely shielded from social contact” for around 12 weeks, or possibly longer.

This includes people over the age of 70, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions.

Which illnesses will this include?

Government guidance says those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. This group includes adults under 70 who would qualify for a flu jab due to an underlying health condition.

They include people with...

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis 
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes; problems with the spleen, such as sickle cell disease or if the spleen has been removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and Aids
  • those who take medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • those who are seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)

What did the Prime Minister say about healthy older people?

“Many people, including millions of fit and active people over 70, may feel that there is something excessive about these measures, but I have to say that I believe they are overwhelmingly worth it to slow the spread of the disease, reduce the peak, to save life, minimise suffering and give our NHS the chance to cope,” Mr Johnson said.

Why pregnant women?

Prof Whitty said that including pregnant women in this group was a “precautionary measure” as experts are “early in our understanding of this virus”.

What about children?

Although older people are at a higher risk of being infected, children can still catch the illness, the World Health Organisation said.

It added: “While the vast majority have experienced mild disease, some have experienced severe or critical disease and some young adults and one child, that we are aware of, has died.”

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Coronavirus: the facts by the World Health Organisation and the NHS

What is coronavirus?

  • COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

  • The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

  • As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

  • The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

  • Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

  • As of March 12, the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days. People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.

Should I avoid public places?

  • Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

  • Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

  • NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.