LONDON, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The British government on Wednesday pledged 30 billion pounds (about 39 billion U.S. dollars) in a stimulus plan to shore up Britain's economy amid increasing threat of the novel coronavirus.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the British economy faced a "significant impact" from the COVID-19 outbreak, even if it was likely to be "temporary".
"Up to a fifth of the working age population could need to be off work at any one time. And business supply chains are being disrupted around the globe," Sunak told MPs in his first budget speech to the House of Commons (lower house of the parliament) Wednesday.
"I will do whatever it takes to support the economy," he said.
The move came just hours after the Bank of England slashed its main interest rate from 0.75 percent to 0.25 percent.
The cut is expected to support business and consumer confidence during the epidemic, bolster the cash flows of businesses and households, reduce costs and improve the availability of finance.
A total of 456 people have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday morning, up from 373 at the same point 24 hours ago. Six people have died from the illness in Britain.
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister, became the first British MP to test positive for the disease and has been self-isolating at home since.