UK residents should avoid all non-essential travel and contact with others to slow the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today.

In measures he described as “very draconian”, the Prime Minister advised that Britons avoid contact with others, working from home where they can and avoid visiting pubs, restaurants, clubs, theatres and other social venues.

Johnson stressed the need for at risk groups – the over 70s, those with certain health conditions, and pregnant women – to follow these measures.

Those with the most serious health conditions will be advised in the coming days to protect themselves from social contact for 12 weeks, a move that Johnson described as “very disruptive… but necessary”.

He also said that, given the large number of cases in London, it is crucial that Londoners pay “special attention” to this advice.

In his statement this afternoon, he added that if anyone in your household contracts symptoms of the disease, everyone in the household is now advised to stay at home for 14 days.

People in these circumstances should not leave the house except for exercise, and only at a safe distance from others. They should also ask for assistance from others for food and essentials to avoid social contact as much as possible.

He also said that, from tomorrow, emergency personnel will no be provided for mass gatherings and that people should avoid using the NHS unless absolutely necessary, to avoid putting added pressure on the health service.

Without such measures, cases of coronavirus could double every five to six days, Johnson said.

In the press conference, Professor Chris Whitty made clear that these measures will be in place for at least several weeks across the country.

The UK also announced today that 1,543 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the UK, with 55 deaths.