LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has mainly moved into the ‘delay’ phase of the government’s four-stage battle plan to tackle the spread of coronavirus, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Thursday.

Whitty was asked by a committee of lawmakers whether Britain had moved to the second stage of the government’s plan, which covers containing the virus, delaying its transmission, researching its origins and mitigating its impact.

The second stage, ‘delay’, could mean taking measures to restrict people’s movements.

“What we’re doing is putting greater and greater priority on the elements of this that are delay,” Whitty said, adding that with community transmission now highly likely in Britain it looked optimistic to attempt to contain the virus.

“As time goes by we then may start to move into the more socially determined actions … We’ve moved from a situation where we were mainly in contain … to now we’re basically mainly delay.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)