Schools to be told to stay open even if staff or pupils are suspected of having coronavirus

Jason Collie
AFP via Getty Images

Health officials will tell schools that they do not need to close or send staff and pupils home if there is a suspected case of coronavirus.

Public Health England is expected to issue the new guidance on Monday saying that no restrictions or special control measures are needed while tests for Covid-19 are carried out on a suspected case.

While a pupil or staff member suspected of coming into contact with the virus is being tested, the guidance says no action is needed.

If a case of the virus is confirmed, then health protection teams will speak to the head teacher and action will be taken.

Most schools are currently closed for half-term break.

The new guidance comes the week after at least seven schools in Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne were understood to have told parents that either a staff member or pupil has been advised to stay at home for 14 days by PHE.

Schools messaged parents saying that they would authorise absences for families wishing to self-isolate.

There remains nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with eight of the patients have been released from hospital. The Department of Health and Social Care said on Sunday that 3,109 tests have been carried out so far.

The death toll in mainland China rose by 105 to 1,770, in figures announced early on Monday morning.

Chinese authorities also reported the number of new cases had increased slightly on the previous day’s figure after falling for three consecutive days.

The 2,048 new cases announced on Monday was up by 29 from the previous day’s figure.

The number of people infected globally stands at 68,500, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

“Millions” of Britons with flu-like symptoms could be told by authorities to “self-isolate” by staying at home for a fortnight if the UK’s number of confirmed cases passes 100, the Sunday Telegraph has reported.

The paper said that senior NHS managers have been told that the service will stop testing for Covid-19 “once around 100 cases have been confirmed” across Britain.

The DHSC did not comment when asked about the self-isolation direction.

Britons on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have accused the Government of “forgetting” about them after other countries confirmed they were bringing their citizens home.

David Abel called for the Government to evacuate the British citizens on board and added: “It feels that we have been forgotten.”

It is understood that a repatriation flight is one of a number of options being considered by the Government.

Mr Abel’s call comes as it emerged passengers could be stuck in quarantine beyond the initial February 19 deadline.

So far, 355 of the 3,500 people on board the ship have tested positive for the virus.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We sympathise with all those caught up in this extremely difficult situation.

“We are urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of the British people on board the Diamond Princess, in line with the latest advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organisation, and are working closely with the Japanese authorities and our international partners.”

The first death from the virus outside Asia was confirmed in France on Saturday.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said an elderly Chinese tourist had become the first death to the virus in Europe, Reuters reported.

The patient, a Chinese tourist from the province of Hubei that includes Wuhan, had arrived in France on January 16 and suffered a lung infection caused by the virus.

Additional reporting by PA Media

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