LONDON — British authorities on Monday dramatically ramped up measures to combat the new coronavirus, urging all U.K. residents to avoid unnecessary contact with others and telling people in the most vulnerable groups to stay at home for three months.Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.”“You should avoid pubs, clubs, theaters and other such social venues,” he said at a news conference alongside his chief medical and scientific advisers.Authorities said people over 70, those with chronic illnesses and pregnant women should be “shielded” from social contacts for 12 weeks, starting this weekend.The U.K. had previously resisted taking some of the tough measures seen in other European countries, which have banned large events, shut schools and closed their borders to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness.But Johnson said Monday the number of U.K. cases was starting to rise rapidly and “without drastic action” they could double every five or six days. As of Monday, Britain had 1,543 confirmed cases and 53 virus-related deaths.British authorities now say if anyone in a household has a fever or persistent cough, everyone there should stay at home for

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