Government says schools should not close while testing pupils for Coronavirus

The government has said schools should not close while pupils are being tested for the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government has a “clear plan to contain, delay, research and mitigate” the spread of the coronavirus.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned: “We expect more cases here”.

He has said the department will step up its public information campaign as it steps up battle against the spread of the virus known as Covid-19.

But as schools across the country close to test people returning from quarantined areas, Mr Hancock stressed individual schools do not need to close because of pupils being tested.

Mr Hancock said: “If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or education setting, no special measures are required while test results are awaited.

“There is no need to close the school or send other pupils home.

“Once the results arrive, those who test negative will be advised individually about returning to education.

“In most cases, closure of the childcare or education setting will be unnecessary, but this will be a local decision based on various factors including professional advice.”

He said that if specific cases arose where a school closure was necessary then it would be communicated.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said the government’s strategy has been successful so far, but urged people to take sensible precuations.

He confirmed that 13 people had tested positive so far.

He stressed that there was no need to close schools because of individual’s being tested.

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It came ahead of a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee this afternoon, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson .

The statement came after reports of  leaked document which claimed that Coronavirus could kill half a million people and infect 80 per cent of Britons in a “worst case scenario”.

Vulnerable Britons, including the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses, would be most at-risk and the NHS would be put under immense pressure if the virus sweeps the UK.

The planning memo warns that four in five Britons – or more than 50million – could be infected by the flu-like virus, also known as Covid-19, which is rapidly spreading across Europe.

Thousands are facing random tests as early detection methods are ramped up at 11 hospitals and more than 100 GP surgeries.

The document was revealed as seven UK schools closed 1,000 holidaymakers – including dozens of Britons – were trapped at a quarantined hotel in Tenerife.

Schools across the country have also been shuttered over fears of the virus spreading.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

The planning memo, seen by the Sun, is called “Covid-19 Reasonable Worst Case Scenario”.

Reportedxly written by the National Security Communications Team, it warns: “The current planning assumption is that 2-3 per cent of symptomatic cases will result in a ­fatality.”

It claims infection rates would soar for two to three months as the virus spreads, leading to closures of public transport, schools, museums, tourist sites and other public buildings.

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Face masks are being seen more frequently – including on British public transport

The Government said it must prepare for the worst case, but “this does not mean we expect it to happen”, a spokesman said.

As of February 25, a total of people have been tested in the UK, with 13 positive cases.

Thousands of Britons could soon face coronavirus screening as the Department of Health ramps up detection methods at 11 hospitals and 100 GP surgeries across the UK.

The tests will provide an “early warning” if the virus is spreading, according to Public Health England.

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Coronavirus outbreak

Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said schools could be shut and public transport reduced if coronavirus became a global pandemic.

He said: “There’s no secret there’s a variety of things you need to look at, you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport.”

Prof Whitty said families could also be asked to self-isolate if one of them had symptoms of the virus.



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