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Coronavirus is spreading faster in London than any other part of the country. What do we know about the spread, why it is faster, and what is the government’s advice?

How many cases are there in London?

According to the Public Health England website, London has recorded 407 cases, almost half the total number of cases in England, 1,099, dwarfing the figures in large cities such as Manchester, which has nine cases, and Birmingham, which has eight.

What did Boris Johnson say?

In his first daily press conference on the crisis, the prime minister said the capital was racing up the epidemiological curve and that everyone in London needed to start working from home, avoid pubs and restaurants, and keep physical distance from each other.

“It is now clear that the peak of the epidemic is coming faster in some parts of the country than in others. It looks as though London is now a few weeks ahead,” said Johnson.

“So to relieve the pressure on the London health system and to slow the spread in London, it is important that Londoners now pay special attention to what we are saying about avoiding non-essential contact and to take particularly seriously the advice about working from home and avoiding confined spaces such as pubs and restaurants.”

Where is the virus in London?

The highest number of cases have been recorded in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has seen 43 cases, while Hackney/City of London has seen 20, and Tower Hamlets, home to Canary Wharf but also to one of the most deprived communities in Britain, has recorded just nine.

What impact will it have on the capital?

From tomorrow, expect the streets to be deserted. Many offices have already introduced an element of remote working, and although the government’s announcement is not legally binding, it will carry a lot of weight with responsible employers.

Is London following a global pattern for capital cities?

Yes and no. The concentration of cases in Italy, which has seen the most reported cases in Europe, remains in the north of the country. In the US, Washington has the highest number of cases, followed closely by New York. In Japan the only cluster with more than 50 cases is in Osaka, where infections spread from events in a live music venue. A map released by the ministry of health on Monday showed that one of the biggest clusters in Tokyo (10 to 49 people) followed a New Year’s Eve party.

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