Every household in the UK will be sent a letter from Boris Johnson next week warning them things will get worse before they get better.
A letter from the Prime Minister – who himself has Covid-19 and is self-isolating in Number 11 – will land on the doorsteps of 30 million households across all four UK nations from next week.
It is expected that the letter will cost £5.8m to print and distribute across the UK.
Today the UK death toll hit 1,019 with a sharp increase in the number of those killed from the deadly bug.
And the public have been warned that a total death toll of less than 20,000 will be considered a ‘success’.
In the letter the Prime Minister will outline the guidance everyone should follow and the measures the Government has put in place to fight coronavirus and to support businesses and workers.
He will urge everyone to follow the rules to save lives and thank NHS staff working round the clock as well as everyone volunteering their time to protect others.
The Prime Minister will say: “From the start, we have sought to put in the right measures at the right time.
“We will not hesitate to go further if that is what the scientific and medical advice tells us we must do.
“It’s important for me to level with you. We know things will get worse before they get better.
“But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.
“I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus, in particular the staff in our fantastic NHS and care sector across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“It has been truly inspirational to see our doctors, nurses and other carers rise magnificently to the needs of the hour.
“Thousands of retired doctors and nurses are returning to the NHS – and hundreds of thousands of citizens are volunteering to help the most vulnerable.
“That is why, at this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Alongside the letter, residents will receive a leaflet outlining the Government’s advice, with clear explanations of symptoms, hand washing guidance, rules on leaving the house, self-isolating with symptoms and shielding vulnerable people.
The leaflet contains UK-wide information as well as directions about where to access online guidance specific to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
More than 1,000 people have died after contracting the virus, the Department of Health revealed on Saturday.
Covid-19 related deaths in the UK jumped from 759 to 1,019 – an increase of 260 and by far the biggest day-on-day rise since the outbreak began.
Brendan Wren, Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the report of the further UK deaths “approximates to a person dying every five minutes in our hospitals from Covid-19”.
He added: “With the doubling rate of infection every four/five days and the epidemic expected to peak in two/three weeks it is possible that we may get to much higher levels in the coming weeks before we see if the social distancing interventions have an impact.
“Coupled with the observation that the infection can affect all walks of life even without underlying health conditions, this may be a sobering thought for any of the population flouting hygiene measures and/or social distancing.”
Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said it was “very sad” but “unsurprising” that the UK had passed the 1,000 Covid-19 related deaths milestone.
He said: “Over the coming weeks we can expect to see the UK’s toll of the disease grow substantially, with increasingly large day-on-day numbers of the deceased.
“It is widely anticipated that we will reach a peak of numbers in around a fortnight, but it should be remembered that the strategy of suppressing the peak, will cause it to broaden and we will see peak mortality level off and stay high for some time before it starts to decrease.
“It’s therefore essential that people observe social distancing rules in order to start to turn the tide on the coronavirus.”
It took 13 days for the number of deaths in the UK to go from one to just over 100. It has taken a further 10 days for the total to go from just over 100 to just over 1,000.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, appearing at the Government’s daily press briefing, said it was basing its response to the outbreak on “the best scientific advice”.
Asked about an Imperial College London study which suggested coronavirus deaths in the UK could be lower than feared, Prof Powis said expert input, including from Imperial, came through the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
He added: “The number of deaths that arise out of this epidemic in the UK, if it’s less than 20,000 as (government chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance said, that would be a good result, although every death… is absolutely a tragedy.
“But we shouldn’t be complacent about that, although that would be a good result, it will only happen if we stop the transmission of the virus.”