Queen quits Buckingham Palace over coronavirus fears as UK cases hit 1,140 and death toll doubles to 21

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on his way to Buckingham Palace after the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. Thomas Mukoya | Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


LONDON, Mar 15, 2020, The Sun. Her Majesty, 93, was whisked to Windsor Castle after Cobra crisis talks. Plans are in place to quarantine her and Prince Philip, 98, at Sandringham if the outbreak worsens. Ten more people have died, taking the UK toll to 21, it was announced today, with confirmed cases rocketing by 342 to 1,140, The Sun reported.

The Queen was chauffeured to Windsor on Thursday. A royal source said: “She is in good health but it was thought best to move her. A lot of her staff are a bit panicky over coronavirus.

“The Palace hosts a constant stream of visitors including politicians and dignitaries from around the world.

“The Queen has met a lot of people there until recently. But she is weeks away from her 94th birthday and advisers believe it is best to get her out of harm’s way.

“Buckingham Palace is in the middle of London and also has a bigger staff than other estates so is deemed a much more dangerous location.

“There have been no specific scares or positive tests there yet but no one wants to take any chances.”

The Queen’s court could also be moved permanently during the crisis.


The Palace has around 500 staff, Windsor 100 and Sandringham a handful.

Palace garden parties for 30,000 guests in May and June are on the brink of being cancelled or postponed.

The Queen may also have to miss the Epsom Derby on June 6.

A Palace spokeswoman said: “Future events will be reviewed on an ongoing basis taking into account the appropriate advice.”

Advisers believe the Queen could be even safer if isolated at Sandringham, Norfolk.

There were no confirmed cases in the county until today when three patients tested positive at hospital in King’s Lynn.

The estate’s main house would be reopened if she moves there. Or she could join Philip at five-bed Wood Farm Cottage.

The Queen hosted a Palace reception on Tuesday but avoided shaking hands with dignitaries. But on Wednesday — her last Palace appearance — she did greet Prof Mark Compton with a handshake.

There are fears the real figure of coronavirus cases in the UK could be more than 10,000 — with numbers expected to soar in the coming weeks.

Tonight there were claims that all over 70s will be told to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months.

The measure could be enforced within the next 20 days.

Hotels and other buildings may be used as temporary hospitals.

A senior government source said the perception that ministers are reluctant to make difficult and costly decisions to battle the virus is wrong.

NHS England said the victims announced today were all age 60 or over and had underlying health conditions.

Five were in London and the others at trusts including in Buckinghamshire, Sandwell & West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Chester.

Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty said: “I am sorry to confirm ten further patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 in England have died. All of them were in the at-risk groups.


“I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends who have received this difficult news.

“I ask that their privacy is respected at this time.

“I understand this increase will be a cause for concern for many.

“The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable. Every one of us has a role to play in achieving this.”

He again urged the public to follow advice including thoroughly washing hands and staying at home if feeling ill.

Confirmed cases in Wales rose by 22 to 60 today.

The Government is set to enforce a ban on mass gatherings across the UK next week. Boris Johnson has already come under fire for not implementing the ban sooner.

Whitehall sources said more people will be urged to work from home.

Europe has been declared the pandemic epicentre with more new cases than China, where the virus originated.

Technology giant Apple today said it is closing all of its stores outside China.

A World Health Organization boss has questioned the PM’s “herd immunity” approach.

Ministers hope 60 per cent of the population catch the virus which would establish high immunity levels and protect the most vulnerable.

But it could mean that close to 400,000 people will die.

Dr Margaret Harris said the situation needed “action” rather than talking about “theories”.

She said: “We don’t know enough about the science of this virus, it hasn’t been in our population for long enough for us to know what it does in immunological terms.


“We can talk theories, but at the moment we are facing a situation where we have to look at action.”

Two of the deaths announced today came at Barts Hospital in the City of London. Their ages were not disclosed.

Another patient, a man in his 60s, had been at Northwick Park Hospital in North West London.

A man in his 80s passed away at North Middlesex University Hospital.

A fifth victim in the capital — a man in his 90s — died at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London. Its trust said: “He had been extremely unwell, with significant other health conditions.”

A man who died at Wycombe Hospital, Bucks, was a grandad, 78.

He had been transferred from Wexham Park Hospital near Slough four weeks earlier.

He died last Sunday but the virus was only detected when doctors tested his body on Wednesday.

Michael Hamilton, Ryan Sabey

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