U.K. says will not shut down schools yet amid COVID-19 outbreak

The U.K. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (R) at the press briefing alongside U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.K. Chief medical Office Chris Whitty. /PHOTO: Screen grab of the live stream from the UK Prime Minister – Twittter

The U.K. will not shut down its schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but is urging citizens to avoid mass gatherings, Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said on Monday.

Vallance made the remarks in a press briefing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief medical Office Chris Whitty.

The U.K. has recorded more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases, and 36 deaths, prompting calls from some quarters to have the government order a closure of schools.

Vallance also announced new measures including quarantine directives that will see people who come into contact with infected persons also being placed under isolation.

“If one person gets the symptoms of new persistent coughs or fever, the whole household stays isolated for 14 days,” he said.

“We’re also recommending increased social distancing. Which means, trying to reduce contact between people – again – to try to delay this transmission. That means, where businesses can do it and where individuals can do it – home working is recommended. Unnecessary travel should be reduced and stopped. Avoiding gatherings and crowded places is important.”

As of Monday 16 March, 2020. More than 153,000 cases had been reported globally.

Many affected countries have since moved to impose travel restrictions, bans on public gatherings, shut down schools and universities as well as sporting events in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared last week that Europe is now the center of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The body has urged all countries to take stronger measures to stop the spread of the disease.