Queen is ‘in good health’ Buckingham Palace says amid coronavirus fears

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Buckingham Palace last night insisted the Queen was in ‘good health’ after Prince Charles was diagnosed with coronavirus.

It is understood the Prince of Wales met his 93-year-old mother at Buckingham Palace on March 12 – less than two weeks ago. The virus has an estimated incubation period of one to 14 days.

Charles’s doctor is convinced that he would have been contagious from March 13 at the very earliest, based on when the prince, 71, first started to develop symptoms at the weekend.

The Duchess of Cornwall has tested negative but is now isolated from her husband at Birkhall, their Scottish retreat where both are staying.

Pictured: The Queen today as she spoke to Boris Johnson to congratulate him about the volunteers who've stepped forward to help the NHS through the coronavirus crisis

Pictured: The Queen today as she spoke to Boris Johnson to congratulate him about the volunteers who’ve stepped forward to help the NHS through the coronavirus crisis

Prince Charles visits University of Oxford, in recognition of the reinstatement of the Jesus Chair of Celtic earlier this month

Prince Charles visits University of Oxford, in recognition of the reinstatement of the Jesus Chair of Celtic earlier this month 

Charles was last seen with the Queen on March 9 at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey and saw her again on March 12 - 24 hours before his doctor claims he became contagious. Her Majesty is well but taking appropriate medical advice and is with Philip at Windsor with a skeleton team of just eight

Charles was last seen with the Queen on March 9 at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey and saw her again on March 12 – 24 hours before his doctor claims he became contagious. Her Majesty is well but taking appropriate medical advice and is with Philip at Windsor with a skeleton team of just eight

Prince Albert of Monaco attends the WaterAid charity's Water and Climate event in London where Prince Charles was also in attendance

Pictured: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales uses a Namaste gesture to greet Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood as he attends the Prince’s Trust And TK Maxx & Homesense Awards at London Palladium on March 11

Pictured: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales uses a Namaste gesture to greet Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood as he attends the Prince's Trust And TK Maxx & Homesense Awards at London Palladium on March 11

Pictured: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales uses a Namaste gesture to greet Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood as he attends the Prince’s Trust And TK Maxx & Homesense Awards at London Palladium on March 11

March 12: The Prince of Wales meets guests at a dinner at Mansion House in London, where he was guest of honour

March 12: The Prince of Wales meets guests at a dinner at Mansion House in London, where he was guest of honour

The Baroness Benjamin from London is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on March 12

The Baroness Benjamin from London is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Prince of Wales during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on March 12

Buckingham Palace, while refusing to comment on whether the Queen had been tested for coronavirus, took pains to stress last night that she was well. As if to emphasise the point, the Palace unusually released a picture of the Queen undertaking her weekly audience with the Prime Minister by telephone yesterday evening from Windsor Castle, where she is in isolation with Prince Philip, 98.

It show her wearing a blue blouse and cardigan, surrounded by china corgis and racing trophies, and speaking on a 1970s-style white telephone.

A Palace spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly on the morning of March 12 and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.’

Charles began to feel ill over the weekend at his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire before flying to Scotland on Sunday. He was tested via the NHS on Monday and the results came back positive late on Tuesday evening. Clarence House insists that neither Charles nor Camilla were given special treatment.

Sources say his symptoms are mild and he has not even taken to his bed. He has spent the past few days working and is expected to make a full recovery.

A short statement from Clarence House said: ‘The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus. He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

‘In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.’

It added: ‘It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.’ Charles has had a packed public schedule, including the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, where he was with Boris Johnson and his pregnant partner Carrie Symonds, and senior royals including the Queen. He also met boxer Anthony Joshua but the heavyweight champion said last night he is ‘fit and well’ and obeying official advice to stay at home.

The following day Charles attended a conference with Prince Albert of Monaco, who subsequently revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19.

That week he met celebrities including Ant and Dec and Ronnie Wood at a Prince’s Trust Event, held an investiture at Buckingham Palace and attended a charity dinner with Lord Archer and his wife Dame Mary.

On March 13, the prince went to Highgrove. On Sunday, he and Camilla flew to Scotland to stay at Birkhall. By that time he was starting to feel ill, say sources. But his symptoms were not bad enough for him to change his plans. It is understood he has called the Queen and his sons, William and Harry, to inform them of his illness.

Doctors believe it is extremely unlikely that the symptoms he has will develop into anything more serious and he is said to be in ‘very good spirits’. Anyone who came into contact with the prince since March 13 has been informed, but it is not believed they have been offered tests.

As coronavirus reached the royal family on the second day of Britain’s lockdown, it has also emerged:

  • The UK Government claims to have bought 3.5million coronavirus antibody tests – but refuses to reveal who makes them, when they will be available on the NHS or whether they’ll be used at home;
  • Shoppers are still ignoring social distancing rules amid fears stores will become hotbeds of coronavirus, with growing calls for the Government lockdown to become more stringent
  • Sadiq Khan has defied instruction from Boris Johnson to increase London’s dangerously cramped Tube services – saying services will be cut further because so many staff are off sick;  
  • London and Madrid now face worse coronavirus outbreaks than Italy’s Lombardy region with deaths doubling every two days. But in better news Germany sees a drop in infection rate from 21% to 15%;
  • FTSE 100 reaches highest level in two weeks after rising nearly 5% with 258-point surge as world markets rallied again; 
MailOnline has plotted Charles movements over the past 16 days, where he is likely to have met hundreds of people over the past few weeks where he caught coronavirus

MailOnline has plotted Charles movements over the past 16 days, where he is likely to have met hundreds of people over the past few weeks where hge

March 10: Charles (left) sat across from Prince Albert of Monaco at an event in London on March 10 – Albert tested positive on March 20 but Charles’ team say it is impossible to know how he caught it after a flurry of public engagements this month

March 11: Prince Charles has been continuing to carry out public engagements despite the coronavirus crisis – but has avoided shaking hands, shown here using a namaste gesture to Ant and Dec at the Prince’s Trust Awards 2020

Prince Albert, Boris Johnson and the Queen: Who Prince Charles has met over the past 16 days and where

Prince Charles has carried out a number of engagements over the past fortnight at which he has had contact with possibly hundreds of people.

Here are his movements around London over the last two weeks:

  • March 9 – Westminster Abbey: Charles and Camilla join members of the Royal Family including the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other dignitaries including Boris Johnson at the annual Commonwealth Service
  • March 9 – Marlborough House, London: Charles and Camilla are guests of Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland at an event to mark Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • March 10 – Kings Place: Charles sits opposite Prince Albert of Monaco, who later tests positive for coronavirus, at a WaterAid charity event
  • March 11 – London Palladium: Charles, the president of the Prince’s Trust, meets award winners and the charity’s supporters including Ant and Dec at the annual Prince’s Trust Awards
  • March 12: Buckingham Palace – Investitures include making Baroness Benjamin a Dame. Charles also meets the Queen in the morning.
  • March 12 – Mansion House: Meets London Lord Mayor William Russell and the High Commissioner for Australia George Brandis at a dinner in aid of the Australian bushfire relief and recovery effort
  • Since March 12 – Charles has a number of private meetings with Highgrove and Duchy individuals, all of whom have now been informed. He flew to Balmoral on March 22.

Charles is said to be happy and calm despite his diagnosis.

A royal source told People magazine of Charles and Camilla: ‘Both of them remain in good spirits. There is a sense of keeping calm and carrying on.

‘The duchess is concerned for him, but she is aware of his own good spirits and therefore is keeping a close eye on him and mindful of her own situation. She is upbeat.’

MailOnline has also plotted the prince’s movements over the past 16 days and he attended at least six public engagements meeting hundreds of people.

These included a string of Britain’s biggest stars at his annual Prince’s Trust awards at the Royal Albert Hall two weeks ago – the start of the coronavirus 14-day incubation period.

The Prince of Wales was last at Buckingham Palace on March 12  to carry out investiture on behalf of the Queen, who he also ‘briefly’ met.

His coronavirus diagnosis will raise fears for the health of elderly royals including his mother and Prince Philip, 98, who are together at Windsor Castle, especially because of the high death rate among the elderly.

Charles is understood not to have seen his father for many weeks, possibly during the Megxit crisis talks at Sandringham, where his 98-year-old father was based until he flew by helicopter to Windsor last Thursday. 

William and Kate are at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, while Harry and Meghan are back in Canada, after both couples saw Charles at the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on March 9

At the service no members of the royal family shook hands, with the Prince greeting people with Namastes and the Duke of Sussex elbow bumping Craig David. 

Two days later on March 11 he also met with a string of celebrities at the Prince’s Trust Awards 2020 in London, attended by Ant and Dec, Philip Schofield, Fearne Cotton, Pierce Brosnan, Richard E Grant, Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood, X Factor star Fleur East, Dina Asher-Smith and Craig David.  

Arriving at the Prince’s Trust awards a fortnight ago, Charles twice extended his hand to greet people before withdrawing it at the last minute in mock horror and greeting then with a bow and the Hindi greeting ‘Namaste’.

Turning to Dame Martina Milburn, the Trust’s chief executive, the prince said: ‘It’s just so hard to remember not to.’

On the evening of March 12, after investitures at Buckingham Palace, The Prince of Wales with the Lord Mayor of the City of London and the High Commissioner for Australia at a Mansion House dinner in London, his last known public engagement. 

But he did have a number of private meetings with Highgrove and Duchy individuals, all of whom have been made aware of his illness.

Where are senior members of the Royal Family staying during the coronavirus outbreak?

The Queen: Travelled from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle on Thursday, March 19

Prince Philip: Travelled from Sandringham to Windsor Castle on Thursday, March 19

Prince Charles and Camilla: Flew from Clarence House in London to Balmoral in Aberdeenshire by RAF plane on Sunday, March 22

Prince William and Kate: Moved from Kensington Palace to Amner Hall in Norfolk with George, Charlotte and Louis

Prince Harry and Meghan: Staying on Vancouver Island in Canada with their son Archie

Prince Andrew: Staying at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park

Prince Edward and Sophie: Staying in Bagshot, Surrey

He flew to Birkhall, his Balmoral home, with Camilla on March 22 – around the time he started feeling unwell. A small number of people living and working at Birkhall are remaining at the residence and self-isolating.  

Charles had been displaying ‘mild symptoms’ over the weekend before being tested on Monday. 

A royal source has said that medical advice given to the prince is that it is unlikely to escalate into a more serious case. 

Charles has spoken to his sons the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, as well as the Queen, since he tested positive in an NHS test yesterday.   

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Boris Johnson was informed about the Prince of Wales’ positive test result this morning and he ‘wishes the prince a speedy recovery’.

The spokesman said the Prime Minister’s weekly audience with the Queen was now taking place by telephone.

‘I would expect that to be the case later today, it certainly was the case last week as well,’ the spokesman said. 

A member of the Scottish Parliament has expressed surprise that the Prince of Wales was tested for Covid-19 on the NHS.

Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, tweeted that she wishes Charles a speedy recovery, but added: ‘Given that his symptoms are said to be mild, like many I wonder how he was tested when many NHS and social care workers cannot get tested.

‘My nephew, who has serious asthma and a chest infection was recently refused a test. #coronavirus.’

It came  after Clarence House said Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were tested on the NHS in Aberdeenshire, where they are currently staying, as ‘they met the criteria required for testing’. It also said Charles is experiencing ‘mild symptoms’.

The NHS Scotland website says people will only generally be tested for Covid-19 if they ‘have a serious illness that requires admission to hospital’.

March 9: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Marlborough House for a Commonwealth Day event.  Camilla has tested negative and is without any symptoms of the virus

March 9: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Marlborough House for a Commonwealth Day event.  Camilla has tested negative and is without any symptoms of the virus

March 9: Charles also stood close to his children and his wives on March 9 at Westminster Abbey, before he is said to have been contagious. William and Kate are at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, while Harry and Meghan are back in Canada.

March 9: Charles also stood close to his children and his wives on March 9 at Westminster Abbey, before he is said to have been contagious. William and Kate are at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, while Harry and Meghan are back in Canada.

Charles, pictured with his family on March 9, is with his wife Camilla at Balmoral. She is not showing symptoms but is being monitored

Charles, pictured with his family on March 9, is with his wife Camilla at Balmoral. She is not showing symptoms but is being monitored

Prince Charles is in an ‘excellent position’ to fight the coronavirus because of his healthy diet and lifestyle 

Prince Charles is in an ‘excellent position’ to beat coronavirus despite his age, according to a former GP.

Over-70s are among those most at risk of suffering serious complications as a result of the virus, which has killed 424 and infected 8,000 more in the UK so far.

But the Prince of Wales, who turned 71 in November, should be protected because of his healthy diet and lifestyle, according to Dr Sarah Brewer.  

She warned that he must avoid his royal relatives not living in the same household, adding that the ‘same rules apply to everyone. He is not known to have any underlying health conditions.

Dr Brewer added: ‘Should he become unwell, his underlying fitness and excellent medical care should ensure he makes a good recovery.’ 

Charles and Camilla are both aged over 70 – the age group told to take social distancing particularly seriously.

The Government advice states: ‘We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (Covid-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.’

The group includes anyone aged 70 or over, regardless of any medical conditions.

Asked about the Prince of Wales testing positive for coronavirus, Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said: ‘I’ve discussed with the team in NHS Grampian and from the information I’ve been given its clear he was tested for clinical reasons and I’m pleased also that he is well and as with many people who have had this virus he has had a mild illness.’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she sends her best wishes to the Prince of Wales.

Asked about the Government’s instruction that people should not seek to escape the Covid-19 pandemic by travelling to the Highlands, she said: ‘We want people to behave responsibly, we don’t want people to see the Highlands and Islands of our country as places where they can outrun the virus.

‘Obviously there are places where people have homes in Scotland and people will choose to go to their homes but we should all be responsible.’ 

At Westminster, Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: ‘Can I start by wishing Prince Charles a speedy recovery, I know he’s tested positive for coronavirus and our gracious sovereign who’s also in self-isolation.’ 

Around 1.5 million in England fall into a more serious group and have been told to stay at home for 12 weeks.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT PRINCE CHARLES’ MEDICAL HISTORY? 

The Prince of Wales Prince Charles’s medical history isn’t publicly known – but he has had a catalogue of injuries over the years.

Concerns for his health were sparked in November when he was pictured with swollen hands and feet on the first day of his royal tour in India.

As he removed his shoes to step into a Sikh temple in New Delhi, the 70-year-old’s fingers and toes were red and swollen.

Swollen feet can have many causes, among them gout and diabetes – but there is no suggestion Prince Charles has any of them. Often swelling is caused by a build-up of fluid, which may happen as a result of spending too long sitting, such as on long-haul flights.

Charles has hurt his back several times over the years in falls from horses and ponies. He had a slipped disc in 1991 and broke a rib in 1998.

The Prince of Wales also needed keyhole surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee in 1998. He had the surgery on his left knee years earlier. All those years of wear and tear took their toll on Charles’s legs, and in 1998 he needed keyhole laser surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee. 

This includes those who have received a donor organ, anyone on active chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer, some with specific cancers and people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma.

Charles’ health has been relatively robust.  Last November, the Prince of Wales was seen with painfully swollen hands and feet during the first day of his royal tour in India, sparking concerns for his health.

As he removed his shoes to step into a Sikh temple in New Delhi, the 71-year-old’s fingers and toes were considerably red and inflamed.

But the heir to the throne dismissed any apparent discomfort, which may have been caused by the nine-hour flight to South Asia.

And in 2018, Prince Charles admitted he was no longer in the shape he once was.

As he approached his 70th birthday, the royal joked that he knows ‘only too well’ the inevitable physical decline that comes with reaching such a milestone.

‘I don’t know about you,’ he told a crowd of septuagenarians in Brisbane, Australia at the time, ‘but now bits of me keep falling off at regular intervals.’

Charles has, certainly, suffered a catalogue of injuries over the years.

When he met boxer Amir Khan in 2015, the pair compared battle wounds — and it turned out Charles had done himself more damage in his lifetime than the former world champion had suffered in the ring.

In recent years, his catalogue of injuries include a swollen eye caused by dust from a tree, to a cracked rib sustained in a tumble from a horse and a non-cancerous growth which was removed from his face in 2008. 

WHAT IS THE RISK OF CORONAVIRUS TO A 71-YEAR-OLD MAN SUCH AS PRINCE CHARLES?

Older people are known to be most vulnerable to the coronavirus because they have weaker immune systems, which makes it harder for them to fight off any infection.

Patients battling underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, also face a greater risk of dying or suffering severe complications. 

It is unclear if Prince Charles, 71, has any underlying health conditions that may raise his risk. 

Chinese researchers, who carried out the world’s biggest study on COVID-19 patients, warned the risk of patients in their 70s dying was around eight per cent.

The team, who analysed data from 72,000 coronavirus cases, found the overall case-fatality ratio, the percentage of patients who die, was just 2.3 per cent.

British health officials say the death rate is likely to be much lower because there are tens of thousands of patients who won’t be diagnosed because their symptoms are so mild. 

What is the death rate for COVID-19 for different age groups? 

AGE

0-9

10-19

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70-79

80+ 

*** 

DEATHS (%)

0%***

0.2%

0.2%

0.2%

0.4%

1.3% 

3.6% 

8% 

14.8% 

0 deaths recorded

The same study also found the case-fatality ratio was higher for men (2.8 per cent) than women (1.7 per cent), a finding that has been echoed across the world.

Scientists say they don’t know why women seem less likely to die, but have suggested they naturally tend to have stronger immune systems and are less likely to have long-term health conditions.

Could other royals now have coronavirus? How Prince Charles’s met the Queen and family members from Prince William and Kate Middleton to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the 16 days weeks before testing positive 

Prince Charles has had contact with possibly hundreds of people over the past 16 days, including the Queen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The 71-year-old heir to the throne, who has tested positive for coronavirus, carried out at least six engagements as the outbreak gathered pace.

He last met with the Queen briefly at Buckingham Palace on March 12, with doctors believing he could have been contagious from the following day.

Prince Charles is greeted by Baroness Scotland as he arrives with the Duchess of Cornwall for the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House in London on March 9

Prince Charles is greeted by Baroness Scotland as he arrives with the Duchess of Cornwall for the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House in London on March 9

Charles also met all the senior members of the Royal Family apart from Prince Philip at the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

Others royals at the service included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have since moved to Amner Hall in Norfolk with their three children.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have since returned to Vancouver Island before they step down as senior royals on March 31, were also there.

The Queen – who remains in ‘good health’ – travelled from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle last Thursday, where Philip joined her from Sandringham. 

Charles’s last public engagement was on March 12 when he attended a dinner at Mansion House in aid of the Australian bushfire relief and recovery effort.

Charles with singer Alexandra Burke (second left) and other guests during the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House in London on Commonwealth Day on March 9

Charles with singer Alexandra Burke (second left) and other guests during the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House in London on Commonwealth Day on March 9

The Prince of Wales alongside Tim Wainwright from WaterAid at Kings Place on March 10

The Prince of Wales alongside Tim Wainwright from WaterAid at Kings Place on March 10

The Prince of Wales at the WaterAid charity's Water and Climate event in London on March 10

The Prince of Wales at the WaterAid charity’s Water and Climate event in London on March 10

But following this Charles did have a number of private meetings with Highgrove and Duchy individuals, all of whom have been made aware.

Why did Prince Charles and Camilla get tested for coronavirus when the NHS say ONLY patients in hospital will be screened?

Question have been raised after Prince Charles and Camilla were tested for coronavirus despite thousands of NHS workers and sick Brits being denied a swab.

The Prince of Wales, 71, is thought to have been tested via a nasal swab by NHS Grampian staff at the royal residence in Aberdeenshire, despite only showing mild symptoms. Camilla, 72, was also swabbed, even though she had no symptoms. But she produced a negative result and has now separated herself from the prince. 

NHS Scotland’s website states that, in general, tests are only to be given out if patients ‘have a serious illness that requires admission to hospital’ – which is in line with the criteria in the rest of the UK. 

It means that even NHS staff suffering tell-tale symptoms of the virus are not entitled to a test.   The news has sparked fury and claims the royals had ‘special treatment’. But Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, has said she is satisfied Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were tested for ‘clinical reasons’.

On March 9, the day of the Commonwealth Service, Charles and his wife Camilla also went to Marlborough House in London for a reception.

They were guests of Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland at the event to mark Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

One day later, Charles was with Monaco’s head of state Prince Albert II, who has since tested positive for coronavirus.

Charles is not believed to have shaken hands with Prince Albert but attended a roundtable meeting with him at the WaterAid Summit in London on that day. 

And on March 11 Charles, the president of the Prince’s Trust, met award winners and the charity’s supporters at the annual Prince’s Trust Awards.

Celebrities he met at the event included actors Pierce Brosnan, James Norton and Richard E. Grant, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and presenters Ant and Dec.

Then one day later on March 12, Charles had a short meeting with the Queen in the morning at Buckingham Palace after holding an investitures ceremony.

Charles gave honours to children’s TV presenter Baroness Benjamin, Scottish composer Helen Grime and The Searchers singer Michael Prendergast.

And later that evening, Charles attended a dinner at Mansion House in aid of the Australian bushfire relief and recovery effort.

He met with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, and the High Commissioner for Australia, George Brandis, at the event.

The prince was pictured practising namastes instead of handshakes at his public events, including when the royals gathered for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, and the Prince’s Trust event on March 11.

Today, a Clarence House spokesman said Charles was displaying ‘mild symptoms’ but is in good health as he self isolates at home in Scotland.

Charles alongside footballer Harry Kane on stage at the annual Prince's Trust Awards 2020 held at the London Palladium on March 11

Charles alongside footballer Harry Kane on stage at the annual Prince’s Trust Awards 2020 held at the London Palladium on March 11

Camilla, 72, who is also at Birkhall, in Aberdeenshire, has tested negative for the virus, so is separating herself from the prince.

Buckingham Palace said the 93-year-old monarch, who is staying at Windsor Castle with the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, remains in good health and is following all appropriate advice.

Philip was not with the Queen at Buckingham Palace when she last met Charles on March 12.

Charles has spoken to both his sons the Duke of Cambridge, who is in Norfolk with the Duchess of Cambridge and their young children, and the Duke of Sussex, who is in Canada. He has also been in touch with the Queen.

In a statement, Clarence House said: ‘The Prince of Wales has tested positive for Coronavirus. He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

‘In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.

‘The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.

‘It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.’

A source said his doctor’s most conservative estimate was that the prince was contagious on March 13.

The Prince of Wales (right) talks to the Lord Mayor of London, William Russell, and his wife Hilary at a dinner for the Australian bushfire relief at Mansion House in London on March 12

The Prince of Wales (right) talks to the Lord Mayor of London, William Russell, and his wife Hilary at a dinner for the Australian bushfire relief at Mansion House in London on March 12

Charles with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell (left) and the High Commissioner for Australia, George Brandis (right) at a dinner at Mansion House on March 12

Charles with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell (left) and the High Commissioner for Australia, George Brandis (right) at a dinner at Mansion House on March 12

A small number of people living and working at Birkhall are remaining at the residence and self-isolating.

The source said the prince was up and about and not bedridden. Medical advice is that it is unlikely to escalate into a more serious case.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said today: ‘Her Majesty The Queen remains in good health.

‘The Queen last saw the Prince of Wales briefly after the investiture on the morning of March 12 and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare.’  

How Birkhall is Prince Charles and Camilla’s idyllic royal retreat

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent their honeymoon at the idyllic royal retreat of Birkhall.

Now as they approach their 15th wedding anniversary next month, the pair are self-isolating from one another in their beloved Scottish home after Charles tested positive for coronavirus.

Each Easter and summer, Charles and Camilla head to the residence nestled in a picturesque glen on the Queen’s private Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

Charles at a ceremony to present service medals in the grounds of Birkhall in 2012

Charles at a ceremony to present service medals in the grounds of Birkhall in 2012

The couple, who are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, usually spend their time fishing, painting or walking together near the secluded home, which used to belong to Charles’s grandmother the Queen Mother.

But this stay will be vastly different as they isolate from each other and their small remaining household.

The Queen Mother used to described the home as a ‘little big house’.

The grand hunting lodge was where heir to the throne Charles found sanctuary as a teenager with his grandmother during his unhappy school days at Gordonstoun.

He inherited it from the Queen Mother following her death in 2002.

In Charles’s own words, the retreat is ‘a unique haven of cosiness and character’.

Alongside his grandmother, Charles first learned to fish by the whisky-brown waters of the Muick which flows at the bottom of the lodge’s garden.

During the turmoil of his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, it was at Birkhall that Charles sought refuge from media scrutiny.

Shortly after the death of the Queen Mother, the grieving Prince made the sad journey back to stay in the nostalgic house, where he was joined by Camilla.

Hidden from public view, the mansion dates to 1715 and was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for their son in 1849.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Birkhall in a photograph for Country Life magazine in 2018

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Birkhall in a photograph for Country Life magazine in 2018

The Queen Mother, then the Duchess of York, first went there shortly after she married the Duke of York in 1923, when King George V suggested they use it as their Scottish home.

Charles’s parents, the Queen, then known as Princess Elizabeth, and the Duke of Edinburgh, spent part of their honeymoon at Birkhall in 1947, after first travelling to Broadlands in Hampshire to the home of Philip’s uncle Earl Mountbatten.

The Scottish mansion also played a crucial role in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s romance when they were dating.

William and Kate enjoyed romantic breaks at the retreat, and reportedly told friends many of their happiest weekends were spent at the sanctuary.

In 2010, Camilla broke her left fibula while out hillwalking on the Balmoral estate.

Buckingham Palace scrapped a televised coronavirus address by the Queen ‘for her own safety’ and to ‘keep the airwaves clear for Prime Minister and doctors’, royal expert claims

Buckingham Palace scrapped a national televised address about coronavirus from the Queen ‘for her own safety’ and to keep the airways clear for politicians and medical professionals, a royal expert has claimed.

Last week Her Majesty, 93, issued a statement on the outbreak, saying the UK is ‘entering a period of great concern and uncertainty’.

Speaking after leaving London for Windsor, where she was joined by Prince Philip, she urged Britain to come together amid the crisis and assured the country that the Royal Family is ready to ‘play its part’ in beating the deadly infection. 

There had been speculation that the monarch would deliver this message on a national televised broadcast. 

Buckingham Palace scrapped a national televised address about coronavirus from the Queen (pictured at the Commonwealth Service earlier this month) 'for her own safety' and to keep the airways clear for politicians and medical professionals, a royal expert has claimed

Buckingham Palace scrapped a national televised address about coronavirus from the Queen (pictured at the Commonwealth Service earlier this month) ‘for her own safety’ and to keep the airways clear for politicians and medical professionals, a royal expert has claimed

Omid Scobie, a royal contributor on ABC, admitted he was confused by the sudden change to a written statement, having expressed a televised address.

However, royal commentator Victoria Arbiter explained that there were two reasons behind the decision not to go ahead with it.

Speaking on The HeirPod, she said: ‘There is a real sense that they need to keep the focus and keep the airwaves clear for the experts, for the doctors, for the Prime Minister.’

She added that the statement was a way to get the message out there as it could be printed on newspapers, posted on social media and read out on broadcast. 

‘It could reach a huge number of people without taking away airtime,’ she continued.

Last week Her Majesty, 93, issued a statement on the outbreak, saying the UK is 'entering a period of great concern and uncertainty'

Last week Her Majesty, 93, issued a statement on the outbreak, saying the UK is ‘entering a period of great concern and uncertainty’

‘It is inevitable that at some stage she will address the nation. I hope it is not because things have gotten considerably worse but that we are coming out the other side.

‘But I think, that kind of decision would have been made for purely practical reasons and not wanting to overstretch resources.’

Victoria also suggested that the move was to limit the number of people around Her Majesty.

‘We know that when the Queen gives an address, there are a lot of people involved,’ she explained.

‘There is lighting, and sound, and hair and make-up, and producers, and directors, and, at least in the US every, major news station has reported a positive coronavirus case.

Speaking after leaving London for Windsor (pictured), where she was joined by Prince Philip, the Queen urged Britain to come together amid the crisis and assured the country that the Royal Family is ready to 'play its part' in beating the deadly infection

Speaking after leaving London for Windsor (pictured), where she was joined by Prince Philip, the Queen urged Britain to come together amid the crisis and assured the country that the Royal Family is ready to ‘play its part’ in beating the deadly infection

‘There is an abundance of caution given the Queen’s age and that she and Prince Philip are protected. So that impacted the decision-making.’

FEMAIL has reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment. 

Late last week, Downing Street sources said the Queen is preparing to make a televised address to calm the nation’s nerves during the ‘difficult times ahead’.

With the death toll from Covid-19 continuing to rise at a rapid rate, it is understood that as the ‘mother of the nation’ the Queen is waiting for the right moment and wants to time her address to make the maximum impact.    

The victims of Sadiq Khan’s stubborn REFUSAL to run more Tubes amid coronavirus crisis: Mother of premature baby and nurse forced to risk health on packed carriages and teacher who QUIT over fears

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs today that he believes it should be possible to ‘run a better Tube system at the moment’ in light of overcrowding on the London Underground. 

Sadiq Khan sparked fury today and defied the Prime Minister as he warned Tube services will be cut back even further because one in three staff are now off sick – up from one in five overnight – despite dangerous conditions on trains for terrified coronavirus key workers. 

A special needs teacher told MailOnline he has quit work because of the dangers of contracting coronavirus while travelling on packed tubes, while the mother of a premature baby has revealed that she was worried about taking the Tube but had little choice if she wanted to visit her newly arrived son in hospital. 

Mary Selassie, 42, was taking the underground from Ealing Broadway to Westminster, the closest station to St Thomas’ hospital in South London where her son Elhan is being treated in a specialist intensive care unit after being born three months early. The journey takes around an hour.

She told MailOnline: ‘I need the underground at this time because without it I would not be able to spend time with my son. I’ve been doing this journey for the past three weeks and in the last few days the service has not been as regular. I don’t understand why they are reducing the number of trains because it just means that we have to wait for longer.

‘Many other people are in the same difficult position as me. They’re getting the tube because they have to. Of course I’m worried because there’s a very high chance that I could become infected using public transport and then I definitely would not be able to see my baby. This is just adding to my stress.’

The Prime Minister has told the Mayor of London to add more trains but London’s Tube network is packed again with Mr Khan accused of ‘risking lives’ after slashing number of trains at a time of national emergency.

Today one in three of TfL staff are ill or in self-isolation – including large numbers of drivers and customer-facing workers – with the sickness figures appearing to be disproportionately higher than among frontline workers in the NHS, police and fire services. Some have blamed the strength of the Tube unions and their threat to pull away members for the high level of staff absence.

MailOnline can reveal that during rush hour today some London Underground lines are currently only running one train every twenty minutes, when it should be one every three to  five minutes, causing more crammed conditions in ‘death trap’ carriages and on heaving platforms. 

As Britain started its second day of mass self-isolation today, it also emerged: 

  • London is on a trajectory for a worse coronavirus outbreak than Lombardy in Italy with deaths doubling every two days and it could run out of intensive care beds by the end of the week;
  • Parliament is shutting early tonight ‘until further notice’;
  • Coronavirus could have infected as much as half of the population of the United Kingdom, according to researchers at the University of Oxford;
  • FTSE 100 opens up 2% by 108 to 5,555 points after record day of trading yesterday as world markets seesaw;
London Underground tube passengers try to squeeze onto a carriage on the Central Line at White City this morning with services set to become even less frequent, according to underfire Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

London Underground tube passengers try to squeeze onto a carriage on the Central Line at White City this morning with services set to become even less frequent, according to underfire Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

MailOnline reader Wayne Alexander, who works for Network

MailOnline reader Wayne Alexander, who works for Network 

London's Tube network is busy again today as Sadiq Khan blamed staff sickness for the severely reduced timetable

London’s Tube network is busy again today as Sadiq Khan blamed staff sickness for the severely reduced timetable

Commuters crammed on to the Central Line at Leytonstone this morning - where there was only one train every 15 minutes - when it would usually be around every three minutes

Commuters crammed on to the Central Line at Leytonstone this morning – where there was only one train every 15 minutes – when it would usually be around every three minutes 

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown backed by 93 PER CENT of the public – poll finds

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown is backed by 93 per cent of Britons, according to a poll today.

But in a potentially worrying sign for the PM, two-thirds believe that the extraordinary curbs will be easy to obey. 

 

The announcement by the PM last night mean that everyone must stay inside unless it is absolutely essential.

Gatherings of more than two people have been banned in the most dramatic restrictions on freedom ever seen in Britain in time of peace or war. 

But research by YouGov shows the measures have overwhelming endorsement from the public,

Edvaldo DaSilva, 42, said he had tried and failed to find space to board the underground on Monday and Tuesday and today decided to stay at home. 

Mr DaSilva said: ‘I normally leave my home at Bethnal green and take the tube at around 7 am. ‘ Last week it was fine and I was able to get on to the trains. ‘ 

But on Monday and Tuesday it was impossible because their were less trains running than before. 

‘The platform was packed and the trains took about 15 minutes to arrive and then I couldn’t get on. I looked at everybody on the trains and I thought ‘they’re breathing all over each other. This is so dangerous’. 

‘We are supposed to be keeping two meters from people and now that they are less trains, people are being pushed together even more and it’s dangerous for our health. 

‘I saw passengers with their faces stuck next to others and it was terrible. It just needs one person on the train to have coronavirus and everybody is at risk.’ 

Mr DaSilva, who works at the Riverside School in Wood Green, added: ‘This is not acceptable. It’s really hard for me because I teach vulnerable young people life skills and I must be allowed to do my job. 

‘But my boss understands and now the government needs to understand. These tube trains are very dangerous for everyone staff and passengers. Something has to be done. 

‘They need to put new trains on or restrict people travelling. It’s so dangerous and opposite to what we are being told by the Government. I feel very sorry for those people who have to ride on those tubes so closely together. It is not right.’

Coronavirus UK: New lockdown measures in full

Boris Johnson tonight announced a lockdown plan to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the UK as he told the nation to stay at home. 

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following ‘very limited’ purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day.

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile, the PM has announced a ban on: 

Meeting with friends. 

Meeting with family members you do not live with. 

All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals. 

All gatherings of more than two people in public.  

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings. 

To ensure people comply the government is also: 

Closing all shops selling non-essential goods. 

Closing all libraries, playground,  outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but will be patrolled.  

Ana Gomes, 40 and Carlos Maestu, 51 were taking the central line from Ealing Broadway to West Acton following a shopping trip to a supermarket.

Ms Gomes, a waitress who is currently at home after the restaurant she works in closed, said: ‘We don’t want to get the tube, but we have to. The nearest supermarket to us is here in Ealing Broadway. Both of us are taking all the precautions we can, we’d rather not use public transport but what else are we supposed to do?

Spaniard Mr Maestu, a chef, who is also at home following the closure of the central London restaurant he works in added: ‘In Spain the lockdown is much tougher than in Britain. If you ask me, they need to shut down all public transport except to essential workers because there are still too many people out and about.

‘If they did close the tube it would be a big problem for me, but you can’t just think about yourself in a time like this.’

Ernesta Juskatie, 38, a dental nurse revealed that she was taking the underground to get to work.

She added: ‘The practice where I work is still open, so I don’t have much choice. When I’m on the underground, I don’t sit, and I don’t touch anything. I know that might not be enough to stop me getting infected but I’m doing all that I can.

‘Personally, I hope they close the whole network down, except for those who really need to get to work, like NHS staff. That way I would have no choice but to stay at home.’

Kim Black, 48, a child protection social worker from Oxford said that she was taking the underground to Paddington to catch a train to her home.

She added: ‘This is my last day at work and then I’ll be working from home. I just came into London to collect a laptop from my work and sort out some paperwork.

‘It’s actually quite pleasant commuting from Oxford at the moment because normally, you don’t even get a seat. The underground needs to keep going; there needs to be an increased service, not a decreased one because there are a lot of people who still need to use it.’   

There is mounting anger among NMHS workers who insist TFL can and must do more to ensure key workers get to work safely throughout the crisis

There is mounting anger among NMHS workers who insist TFL can and must do more to ensure key workers get to work safely throughout the crisis

‘Contamination is rife’: Boris Johnson faces growing pressure to shut building sites

Workers in a cramped canteen at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset

Workers in a cramped canteen at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset

Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to stop non-essential construction workers heading to building sites as Britain attempts to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister has faced calls across the political spectrum for more stringent rules so workers are not placed at risk, and public transport is not overwhelmed.

Mr Johnson, who will appear before MPs today for Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, has so far resisted the pressure.

But Conservative former cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith joined the demands for a rethink, after doubts were also raised by Nicola Sturgeon and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen are still allowed to carry out routine work in people’s homes despite the dramatic lockdown announced on Monday. 

Pictures shared on social media today show workers sitting beside one another in a cramped canteen at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset.  

As deaths in the capital doubled, the Mayor of London is facing mounting fury and pressure to restore services to normal levels with some NHS workers claiming they are now more worried about travelling to work than treating coronavirus patients in hospital.

But in a statement Mayor Khan this morning revealed more train services will go and said: ‘Nearly a third of TfL’s staff are now off sick or self-isolating – including train drivers and crucial control centre staff. Many of them have years of safety-critical training in order to run specific lines – so it is simply not possible to replace them with others. TfL will do everything possible to continue safely running a basic service for key workers, including our amazing NHS staff, but if the number of TfL staff off sick or self-isolating continues to rise – as we sadly expect it will – we will have no choice but to reduce services further.’.

There were grim scenes on the Tube again today where commuters with no choice but to go to work were faced to stand nose-to-nose with strangers on teeming trains.

Key worker Tony Drew tweeted: ‘No-one is listening to you and don’t need to reduce the service as much as you have. You need to get more trains on and stop putting the lives of key workers like me at risk’.

Kate Mat wrote: ‘I have zero respect for Sadiq & TFL! Are they really blind or just heartless??! They are putting key workers life in danger!!!! Nurses, doctors and other key workers can’t practice social distancing on cramped tubes!’  

A senior nurse named Danny posted on Twitter: ‘Another busy tube. Can we not stagger people’s start times so we aren’t all squashed on the same tube! This is unsafe and not fair!’, and Barry Trimble, whose work involves ensuring cancer patients receive chemotherapy, posted: ‘The Tube is packed, with social distancing impossible. We need more people to stay at home and more trains running in morning and evening peak.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said last night there is ‘no good reason’ Tube services have been slashed and Boris Johnson also questioned why up to three quarters of services had been axed in a call with Mr Khan yesterday,

Commuters have today vented their fury at the lack of trains, with one tweeting Mr Khan this morning with the plea: ‘You are herding key workers into a smaller space. Your decision is a difficult one but is directly risking lives. Please rethink this for our health workers so they can at least feel safe going to work’. Another NHS worker said: ‘Please sort the tubes out, this is risking lives. Emergency workers have to use TFL! Help now’.

Today 500 police officers were deployed at major stations to remind passengers that only those making essential journeys for work should be using the Tube and trains – but huge numbers have no choice but to head to work again today.

Today 500 police officers were deployed at major stations to remind passengers that only those making essential journeys for work should be using the Tube and trains

Today 500 police officers were deployed at major stations to remind passengers that only those making essential journeys for work should be using the Tube and trains

Mr Khan has blamed commuters for flouting a ban on ‘all non-essential travel’ and urged people to avoid rush hour ‘to save lives’ – claiming he does not have enough staff to return services to normal.   

Mr Hancock went on the attack as he was asked at a Downing Street press conference this evening why NHS staff and other key workers were being forced to put themselves at risk on crowded transport.

He said: ‘When it comes to the Tube, the first and the best answer is that Transport for London should have the Tube running in full so that people travelling on the tube are spaced out and can be further apart – obeying the two-metre rule wherever possible.

‘And there is no good reason in the information that I’ve seen that the current levels of tube provision should be as low as they are. We should have more tube trains running.’

Earlier, commuters packed in like sardines hit back at the Mayor, who runs the capital’s public transport network, with one victim claiming it was about saving money, tweeting: ‘Using the pandemic to save a few pennies. Nice work helping the people you claim to represent’. Another Londoner wrote: ‘Utter disgrace. We need professional leadership at this time’.

Sharing a horrifying picture of a packed Tube train this morning, NHS sonographer Nicola Smith tweeted: ‘I love my job, but now I’m risking my health just on the journey in?! @SadiqKhan put the tube service back to normal so we can all spread out, or @BorisJohnson start policing who’s getting on. Help me!’. After completing her journey to the Imperial College NHS Trust in west London, she said: ‘I worry for my health more on my commute than actually being in the hospital.’

And there is continuing confusion over who qualifies as a key worker, especially among London’s army of builders, meaning most had no choice but to ride the busy trains to work and run the terrifying risk of catching coronavirus, which has claimed 422 lives so far in the UK.

Boris Johnson also raised concerns about cutbacks in London Underground services with the capital’s Mayor in a calland is said to have asked him to put on more trains. His Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister raised with the mayor the issue of reduced services on the tube and its impact on people trying to get to work’. 

British Transport Police has said its officers will stop non-essential workers travelling on the Tube. A spokesman said the force would ‘ensure that only those making essential journeys for work are using the Tube and rail network’, adding: ‘Our officers will be on hand to support rail operators if people are clearly disregarding the advice’.

Hours after the PM said almost all Britons should should stay at home in the most draconian shutdown in modern history, people were nose-to-nose on the Tube, trains and buses despite being told to be two metres apart to avoid exposure to the killer virus.  

To stem the terrifying number of deaths, gatherings of more than two people are now banned and people must only leave their homes for essential supplies, medical help, or to travel to work if it is ‘absolutely’ unavoidable. Going out for exercise is allowed once a day as long as people stay two metres apart to stop the NHS collapsing under the strain of new cases.

But transport union TSSA today called for police to be deployed to make sure only key workers are getting on trains amid claims Tube staff could walk out unless ID checks start immediately because of ‘dangerous’ conditions at London stations. 

General secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘Sadly, the situation on the London Underground has not improved. We urgently need British Transport Police and other officers at major stations across London’s transport network to ensure only those with a valid reason to travel are doing so in this emergency’.  

Mr Khan’s office hit back at Mr Hancock’s claim there was ‘no good reason’ not to have more frequent services on the Underground tonight.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: ‘This is simply not true. The Mayor has told ministers countless times over recent days that TfL simply cannot safely run a full service because of the levels of staff sickness and self-isolation.

‘Nearly a third of staff are already absent – there aren’t enough drivers and control staff to do it.

‘The Government must act urgently to get more people staying at home rather than going to work unnecessarily – that means taking the difficult decisions they are refusing to take to ban non-essential construction work and provide proper financial support to freelancers, the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts to stay at home.’ 

Mr Khan has demanded that employers enable their staff to work from home ‘unless it’s absolutely necessary’ and avoid rush hour if they can’t, adding: ‘Ignoring these rules means more lives lost. Some of the people on the Tube yesterday and today are not essential workers, I can tell you that’.

But there is ongoing confusion caused by Boris Johnson’s long list of key workers – with many packed on to trains appearing to be labourers legitimately heading to building sites in London after housing secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted last night: ‘If you are working on site, you can continue to do so.’    

What major world cities have the lowest proportion of people moving around compared to normal? 

Data from Citymapper Mobility Index 

Confusion as shop and office workers are told to stay home amid coronavirus lockdown but builders and delivery drivers can carry on 

The government has come under pressure to urgently clarify who it counts as a ‘key worker’ after Britons woke up in a state of lockdown confusion.

Last night in his historic address to the nation, Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay at home unless travelling to work was ‘absolutely necessary’. 

It was wrapped into an emergency package of draconian measures to keep people indoors to stem the tide of coronavirus infection, which threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

But the wriggle room left by the Prime Minister over exactly who was allowed to travel was seized upon by many workers who continued to commute to their jobs this morning.

Construction workers were seen operating in close proximity, causing head-scratching over why they were continuing to work while most of the country was forced to hunker down at home.

Responding to claims that details of the lockdown were ‘murky’, Michael Gove, the minister for the cabinet office, said: ‘It is the case that construction should continue on sites.

‘People should obviously exercise sensitivity and common sense and follow social distancing measures. But construction sites carried out in the open air can continue’. 

And Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan fanned further confusion when they advised construction workers to stay at home. 

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said it has closed its construction sites, show homes and sale sites due to coronavirus.

The company said it has a ‘large order-book and quality long-term landbank’ which provides it with increased resilience.

It said UK operations have ‘only been meaningfully impacted in very recent days’ while its smaller Spanish operations have been disrupted by a nationwide shutdown. Earlier on Tuesday, competitor Redrow said its sites remain open with ‘strict precautions in place including enhanced levels of cleaning, additional hygiene facilities and social distancing’.

The Department for Transport is identifying those lines that need more trains. It said: ‘We are aware of some instances of overcrowding on certain train services this morning, and are working with operators regarding capacity on specific lines as needed to make sure there is space to be safe.’

C2C, which runs commuter services between Essex and London, is thought to have been identified as a line in need of increased capacity.

Passenger watchdog Transport Focus said: ‘The Government should continue to review what measures are needed to make sure social distancing on trains services is safe.’

The RMT union said: ‘We know that many people who are not traditionally employed, whether they are self-employed, on zero-hour contracts or in the gig economy, feel they have no choice but to go to work because of their financial situation. We therefore call on the Government to do far more to help these workers.’

Vernon Everitt of TfL said: ‘To save lives, everyone must follow the Government and Mayor’s instructions to stay at home and only travel if absolutely essential. Only critical workers should be using public transport, and no one else.’

The Prime Minister’s shutdown will last for a minimum of three weeks and the UK’s new state of emergency is unprecedented in modern history. 

Gatherings of more than two people will be banned in the most dramatic curbs on freedom ever seen in Britain in time of peace or war, as the government goes all out to stop the spread of the killer disease.

In a grim address to the nation from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses’, adding: ‘I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home’.

He said any family reunions, weddings, baptisms and other social events must be cancelled to stop the NHS collapsing under the strain. Funerals can go ahead attended by just a handful of closest relatives.

People must only leave their homes for essential supplies, medical help, or to travel to work if it is ‘absolutely’ unavoidable. Going out for exercise will be allowed once a day, but parks will be patrolled to make sure there is no abuse of the rules. 

Police will have powers to fine those who do not fall into line, and disperse any public gatherings, in measures to curb movement only seen during the Second World War. Historians have claimed you have to go back to 1666 to find when people were last forced to stay at home en masse, when Britons had to stay at home for 40 days to halt the spread of the Great Plague. 

The PM was finally forced into the draconian move amid fury that many people are still flouting ‘social distancing’ guidance, with parks and Tube trains in London – regarded as the engine of the UK outbreak – still busy despite repeated pleas.  

‘Though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more,’ Mr Johnson said.

 

 



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