Don't close over coronavirus, schools told

Public Health England confirms 'general' advice is to stay open as more schools announce they are affected by Covid-19

Charlotte Santry

coronavirus globe

Public Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The organisation's medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4's Today programme: "Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing."

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Mr Cosford continued: "What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

"What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms – it is a cough, shortness of breath or fever – then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

"Of course, if you've been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway."

He said Public Health England was available to talk to schools about their "specific circumstances" and "help them make the right decisions for them".

Yesterday, Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, closed as a precaution after pupils returned from a skiing trip in Italy, where the number of cases is on the rise.

Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough also announced it would be closed for the rest of the week.

Both schools said that this was to allow for a "deep clean" following the return of staff and pupils from ski trips in Italy.

Trinity Catholic College said that a "small number of staff and pupils" had started showing mild flu-like symptoms following a ski trip.

Lutton St Nicholas and Gedney Church End primary schools in Lincolnshire also said they had closed "because of a potential connection to the coronavirus by an individual within the school" and St Christopher's C of E High School in Accrington told parents it would be shut on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sandbach High School in Cheshire said students and staff who visited Aprica, in Italy's Lombardy region, were to stay indoors and self-isolate.

A third Cheshire school, Brine Leas School in Nantwich, said its sixth form was closed due to staff shortages following government advice regarding travel to Italy.

Students from Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby and Newquay Tretherras in Newquay, have also been advised to stay home after returning from ski trips.

This morning, the first positive case of coronavirus was reported in South America after a 61-year-old Brazilian man tested positive following a visit to northern Italy.

Pupils or staff returning from the following areas have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days:

  • Wuhan city and Hubei province, China.
  • Iran.
  • Daegu or Cheongdu in the Republic of Korea.
  • Any Italian town under containment measures.

School groups returning from the following regions do not need to take any special measures but individuals should self-isolate if they develop symptoms and call NHS 111:

  • Cambodia.
  • China.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Northern Italy.
  • Japan.
  • Laos.
  • Macau.
  • Malaysia.
  • Myanmar.
  • Republic of Korea.
  • Singapore.
  • Taiwan.
  • Thailand.
  • Vietnam.

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Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry

Charlotte Santry is deputy news editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @CharlotteSantry

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