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Fears coronavirus will spark divorce surge as couples self-isolate for months

Coronavirus is "very likely" to lead to an increase in marriage break-ups because of people being confined together for long periods in self-isolation, a leading divorce lawyer has said.

Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, whose previous clients have included Sir Paul McCartney, the Prince of Wales, Madonna and Liam Gallagher, revealed the view of the profession as a growing number of households go into voluntary lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of infection.

Official health advice states that if one person in a property has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there should stay at home for 14 days.

Nicknamed the "Steel Magnolia" for her skills and charm, Lady Shackleton told peers at Westminster: "The prediction amongst divorce lawyers is that following self-imposed confinement it is very likely that the divorce rate will rise.

"Our peak times are after long exposure during the summer holidays and over Christmas.

"One only has to imagine what it's going to be like when families are sealed in a property for a long period of time."

Anyone with a new continuous cough or fever is currently advised to self-isolate for seven days, while anyone else in the household must do the same for 14 days.

The vulnerable, including over-70s, diabetics, asthmatics and pregnant women, are about to be ordered to self-isolate for three months.

Brits have also been told to avoid pubs and theatres over the coming months in the battle with the killer bug, which has claimed 71 lives in the UK and is feared to have infected 55,000 people.

Boris Johnson will today face questions from MPs on his coronavirus strategy after the Government announced an "unprecedented" £350 billion package of support to help businesses survive the crisis.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to do "whatever it takes" to buoy the economy.

Measures unveiled by Mr Sunak on Tuesday evening included government-backed loans worth £330 billion – equivalent to 15% of GDP – to help businesses which need access to cash, and a package of tax cuts and grants worth more than £20 billion.

Warning that "never in peacetime" had the UK "faced an economic fight like this one", he also announced plans for three-month mortgage holidays for homeowners suffering outbreak-related difficulties.

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