Coronavirus: Schools 'could be closed' if disease becomes global pandemic

SCHOOLS could be shut if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a global pandemic.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 2:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 2:15 pm

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also warned that public transport could be reduced.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday Prof Whitty added: ‘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.

‘The expectation is not that we will do all these things, the expectation is we will be looking systematically, using the science, at all the building blocks and balancing the effects against costs to society.’

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Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the COVID-19 at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

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

He added: ‘We might want to look at things like should people stay at home with their families in that situation.

‘We would already recommend staying at home yourself, a stage up from that, and I'm not saying we would recommend that, is saying if you are ill with this you would stay at home and your family would stay at home as well.

‘It's one of the things we would want to think about.’

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Prof Whitty said any vaccine against coronavirus will have to come from existing drugs that already have licences.

He added: ‘The key thing is to find drugs that are currently licensed that work against this virus.

‘We will not be able to develop a new drug before before it reaches its peak.’

Around 50 pupils and staff at a Co Antrim grammar school have been sent home as a precaution against coronavirus after returning from an Italian ski holiday.

They were in the Lombardy region in the north of the country but did not visit nine towns affected by the Covid-19 infection and are showing no symptoms.

Cambridge House Grammar school principal Elma Lutton said: ‘Taking cognisance of advice from the Public Health Agency and following advice from the Education Authority, the pupils and staff on that ski trip have been sent home for 14 days' self-quarantine.

‘This is precautionary, none of them were in those nine towns, none are showing any symptoms.

‘They were in the Lombardy region but went through Milan airport.’