Coronavirus cases hit 798 as expert claims 60% of Brits must catch bug

A further 208 people have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, bringing the total number of UK cases to 798.

The Department of Health updated figure on Friday afternoon, hours after Sir Patrick Vallance said at least 60% of the population needs to contact COVID-19 in order to develop "heard immunity."

Herd immunity is the resistance to contagious disease within a population because enough people have it to become immune.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK reached 590 on Thursday, prompting Boris Johnson to initiate the "delay" phase of the government coronavirus plan.

He said the actual number of people in the country with the disease could be between 5,000 and 10,000, although there is no real way of knowing the confirmed number of cases without testing.

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At the moment, coronavirus has claimed the lives of 10 people in the UK but Johnson warned "many more" will die "before their time."

Britain and America have taken a radically different approach to the rest of the world who are desperately trying to curb the spread.

Both have been far slower to impose restrictions whereas countries such as Denmark, Spain and the Republic of Ireland are doubling-down by closing schools and constraining mass gatherings.

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The UK's Chief Science advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said: "Around 60 percent is the sort of figure you need to get herd immunity.

"We want to suppress it, not get rid of it completely – which you can't do anyway.

"Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term.

"We think this virus is likely to be one that comes back year on year, become like a seasonal virus."

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Italy remains the worst hit in Europe, with the country now on lockdown amid 12,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

The Prime Minister said Britain is tracking four weeks behind Italy in terms of spread but figures suggest it could be closer to two.

An infectious disease panel held at University of California said coronavirus could be 10X more fatal than the flue and said a global pandemic could last a year.

It advised people to stockpile "critical prescription medications" and "supply chains run through China."

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