The British Horseracing Authority said the industry’s steering group would continue to liaise with the Government over the threat of coronavirus after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “business as usual” on Monday.
With the Cheltenham Festival now just over a week away, four more people have been diagnosed with the virus in England, bringing the UK’S total number of cases to 40. Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said all four patients had recently travelled from Italy.
Speaking after an emergency Cobra meeting, where ministers gathered to discuss a “battle plan” to be published on Tuesday, Johnson said the spread of the coronavirus was likely to become “more significant” for the UK in the coming days.
However, he said closing schools and banning mass gatherings would only be taken on scientific advice, and added: “We cannot forget that the single most useful thing that we can all do to support the NHS is to wash our hands, two times to Happy Birthday, with hot water.
“It’s very important that people should continue (doing) that and they should go about business as usual.”
Reacting to the prime minister’s comments, a BHA statement read: “Following its Cobra meeting, Government has today reiterated its position that business should continue as usual at present across the country, and that focus should continue to be placed on following its advice regarding controlling the spread of the disease.
“The industry’s steering group is coordinating the sharing of this Government advice with the sport’s participants.
“The steering group remains in regular and ongoing contact with Government and continues to consider a wide range of scenarios in order that we are able to act quickly in case the situation should change.”
Three race meetings in France this week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Some major sporting events have already been affected – with Ireland’s Six Nations match against Italy called off and the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in April, also cancelled.