In early March 2020 the UK government set out four phases in its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:
- Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in the UK for as long as is reasonably possible
- Delay: slow the spread in the UK, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from winter
- Research: better understand the virus and actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; and use evidence to inform development of effective models of care
- Mitigate: provide the best care possible, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the impact of the virus
The delay phase started on 12 March 2020 when the first self-isolation guidance was announced. This is considered the “start of the restrictions in the UK” and should be referred to as “the start of the delay phase”.