The Government could be set to quarantine people over the age of 70 in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.

According to reports from ITV News, the Government are stepping up their bid to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak, including: 

  • The forced requisitioning of hotels and other buildings as temporary hospitals;
  • the requisitioning of private hospitals as emergency hospitals;
  • temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants - some time after next weekend's ban on mass gatherings;
  • emergency manufacture by several companies of respirators that would be necessary to keep alive those who become acutely ill;
  • the closure of schools for perhaps a few weeks, but with skeleton staff kept on to provide childcare for key workers in the NHS and police.

They also report that ministers are considering moves followed in other European countries such as the requisitioning of hotels and other buildings for use as temporary hospitals, as well as the enforced closure of pubs, restaurants and bars.

A senior government source told ITV news, the perception that ministers are reluctant to make difficult and costly decisions to battle the virus is wrong.

READ MORE: UK's herd immunity strategy over coronavirus called into question 

It is thought that the government are looking at a number of options and plans have been drawn up for doctors to give consultations to patients quarantined at home by video links over the internet.

HeraldScotland:

And the Government is in talks with private hospitals about the possibility of taking over beds in a further sign of the pressures that will face the health service at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an acknowledgement of the almost wartime measures being introduced, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our generation has never been tested like this.

“Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

“Despite the pounding every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they pulled together in one gigantic national effort.

“Today our generation is facing its own test, fighting a very real and new disease.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said everyone would have to make sacrifices to protect not only themselves, but “especially those most vulnerable to the disease”.

A number of countries in Europe have closed their borders in a bid to stop the spread of the disease. 

The increase in activity came after 10 more patients died in England after testing positive for Covid-19, while the US government imposed a travel ban on the UK and Ireland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 21 people have been killed by the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, with the World Health Organisation stating that they believe over 150,000 have been affected globally.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter: Herd immunity does not mean the Government is trying to kill old people 

The UK death toll now stands at 21, with 20 in England and one in Scotland.

At a press conference on Saturday, President Donald Trump – who said he had been tested for the virus – announced the extension of his travel restrictions to cover the UK and Ireland.

The changes will come in at midnight on Monday night in the eastern US.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and the president spoke on Saturday evening and “the Prime Minister set out the science-led approach the UK is taking”.

On Monday the Prime Minister will urge manufacturers to join a “national effort” to produce equipment for the NHS.

Engineers have already been asked to draw up plans to quickly produce more ventilators in the UK amid concerns that critical care facilities will come under intense pressure as the Covid-19 crisis intensifies.

Negotiations are also taking place with private health firms about access to their hospital beds.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “We need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort.”

The UK’s approach to developing “herd immunity” against Covid-19 has been called into question by the World Health Organisation.

Spokeswoman Margaret Harris said not enough is known about the science of the coronavirus, and that while “theories” can be talked about, the current situation requires “action”.

And in an open letter, a group of 229 scientists from UK universities argued that “going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary”.

A Department of Health and Social care spokesman said: “Herd immunity is not part of our action plan, but is a natural by-product of an epidemic.

“Our aims are to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.”