The government has announced a new slogan for the next stage of the fight against coronavirus – but it has not been widely welcomed.
Following “stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS”, Britons are now being told to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.
But many have criticised the wording, particularly the idea that people should be alert for a virus which is, by its nature, invisible.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling wrote on Twitter: “Is coronavirus sneaking around in a fake moustache and glasses? If we drop our guard, will it slip us a Micky Finn? What the hell is ‘stay alert’ supposed to mean?”
Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted that it “feels to me like a mistake to me to drop the clear” stay at home message.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: “The messaging from this government throughout this crisis has been a total joke, but their new slogan takes it to a new level.”
He added: “Stay alert? It’s a deadly virus not a zebra crossing.”
Writer and comedian Adam Kay added that it would be “difficult to stay alert to something that’s 0.0001 millimetres in diameter. This pandemic is going to have as many spikes as a coronavirus”.
Junior doctor Julia Simons tweeted: “Please can someone tell Boris coronavirus is not a physical assailant? You can’t stay alert to single-stranded RNA.”
The slogan is expected to be officially revealed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this evening as part of a coronavirus warning system.
The system will have five levels which will provide a path to the end of lockdown restrictions.
Mr Johnson will urge workers who cannot work from home to begin returning to their workplaces while following social distancing rules.
He will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee with cabinet ministers, leaders of the devolved nations, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan before his 7pm pre-recorded address.
More than 31,000 people have died in the UK after testing positive for the coronavirus.