AROUND 1.4 million people with serious health conditions are to receive specific advice on how to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus outbreak, Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, has confirmed.

At present, anyone with an underlying health condition such as those who usually receive an NHS flu jab, people with weakened immune systems and anyone over 70 are told to be "particularly stringent in following social distancing measures".

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But those who are at even higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, including recipients of donor organs, those on active chemotherapy or radiotherapy, people with blood cancers and those with severe chest conditions will be given more tailored advice.

Mr Hancock explained: "Many of these people have pre-existing health conditions and so will be very worried right now, and I understand that, and they'll need very specific sets of action; for instance, how do you go about still getting your chemo if you have cancer whilst also social-distancing?

"If you have cancer it's particularly important to stay away from other people but you also of course have got to keep going with your chemotherapy.

"These are some of the most difficult and challenging cases so we'll be getting in contact with them, but if people think that they are on this list and don't receive a communication from the NHS, then they also need to get in contact."

Mr Hancock told Sky News the Government was looking "very, very closely" at why there was a coronavirus hotspot in the West Midlands after it recorded the highest number of deaths outside of London.

And he suggested that tougher measures could have to be brought in if people did not follow the Government's advice.

He told the BBC's Breakfast programme: "What I can say is that if people follow the advice, stay home, which saves lives, and if they keep apart from others - more than two metres, more than six foot - then we can tackle this and we can turn the tide.

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"The scientists advise that we can turn the tide in 12 weeks if people follow the advice. If people don't follow the advice, then it'll be longer and we might have to bring more and tougher measures."

The Secretary of State said the UK had brought measures in earlier than Italy, which has now suffered more deaths than China.

"But we're absolutely clear that, if we need to, we have the powers; in fact, we've got a Bill in front of Parliament now to strengthen those powers further. But it's far better if people follow the advice."

Mr Hancock said some retired medics who return to work in the NHS to fight the coronavirus will be able to come "straight back in".

It comes as the NHS launched its "Your NHS needs you" campaign urging thousands of retired health professionals to come back to the front line.

In other developments:

*a third person who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales has died;

*the FTSE 100 rose by more than five per cent in early trading with travel companies jumping ahead after a bruising few weeks;

*Conservative MP Maria Caulfield announced she was returning to her job as a nurse alongside her political role;

*a man was arrested on the Isle of Man for failing to follow its coronavirus self-isolation rules;

*the competition watchdog said it would clamp down on retailers using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to exploit customers;

*the Changing the Guard ceremonies at Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and Windsor Castle are being postponed until further notice;

*Downing Street said it expected post-Brexit talks to continue despite Boris Johnson's chief negotiator David Frost showing symptoms of the coronavirus after his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, tested positive on Thursday and

*the death toll from the coronavirus in Spain now stands at 1,002 with nearly 20,000 people have been infected.