Following Boris Johnson’s emergency COBRA meeting yesterday, some expected an announcement that UK schools would temporarily close.
But although the prime minister has warned that new measures to delay the coronavirus outbreak will cause “severe disruption across our country for many months”, he stressed these restrictions should not be introduced too early.
At present, schools will only close if they are specifically told so – such as if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The UK’s decision is markedly different to the response of other countries such as Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Denmark, which all recently announced they would be temporarily shutting schools due to the virus outbreak.
This has attracted a mixed reaction – some scientists say the new measures don’t go far enough, while others say a “balanced” approach will help keep more people safe.
Mr Johnson says he is being guided by scientists – and at the news conference in Downing Street, he said that current advice suggests closing schools “could do more harm than good”.
Schools are being advised to cancel trips abroad, and children are included in the new advice that states anyone with coronavirus symptoms such as a continuous cough or a high temperature must stay at home for seven days – even if the symptoms are mild.