A woman wears a protective face mask as she crosses Westminster walks across Westminster Bridge in central London (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

The NHS has declared the spread of coronavirus as a level 4 incident, the highest category of emergency.

NHS strategic incident director Professor Keith Willett and incident director Stephen Groves have asked hospital managers to ramp up their preparations for Covid-19, including seeing patients via video link.

letter dated March said that a level 4 NHS incident has been declared and asked NHS leaders to review critical care and high dependency capacity as well as consider how it could be increased.

“Where possible, consider implementing alternative models such as remote consultations for those patients who can be supported at home and review arrangements to support vulnerable individuals in alternative settings, including in the community,” the letter says.

A level 4 emergency means that a national incident management team as well as a coordination centre have now been set up to deal with the virus.

The announcement came as the national number of Coronavirus cases rose to 85 and the Government announced its action plan to help support the UK.

Meanwhile, speaking to BBC Radio 4 today, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has said that the UK was “likely” to see an epidemic of coronavirus.

“At this point in time we think it is likely, not definite, that we will move into onward transmission and an epidemic here in the UK.”

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