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Schools To Close -PM Statement


Good afternoon. And thanks for coming or for indeed tuning in to these daily updates. I want to introduce, I’m sure you know Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, and you know Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor.


I want to tell you where we got to in our national fightback against the coronavirus. Today the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies met to discuss the latest evidence on the spread of the virus and the effects of the measures we have already taken to slow its spread. And Patrick is going to update us in a second about that.


I want to repeat that everyone – everyone – must follow the advice to protect themselves and their families, but also – more importantly – to protect the wider public. So stay at home for seven days if you think you have the symptoms. Remember the two key symptoms are high temperature, a continuous new cough.


Whole household to stay at home for 14 days if one member in that household thinks he/she has the symptoms. Avoid all unnecessary gatherings – pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, theatres and so on and work from home if you can. Wash your hands.

And we have already announced in the last few days we will massively scale up our testing capacity in the weeks ahead so we hit 25,000 tests a day.

A huge public information campaign is being rolled out so people get all the information they need to protect themselves and others.

We are asking retired healthcare professionals to come back and help us cope, help the NHS to cope, with this unprecedented challenge.

And we will continue as we have from the beginning to do the right thing at the right time and to follow the best scientific advice.


And we come today to the key issue of schools where we have been consistently advised that there is an important trade off. And so far the judgment of our advisers has been that closing schools is actually of limited value in slowing the spread of the epidemic.

And that is partly because counterintuitively schools are actually very safe environments. And in this disease and epidemic children and young people are much less vulnerable.

And hitherto the advice has been that we should keep schools open if possible in order to reduce the pressure on the NHS and on all other public services. But I think you’ll agree I have always been very clear that this is a balanced judgment and one that we have kept under constant review.

So looking at the curve of the disease and looking at where we are now – we think now that we must apply downward pressure, further downwa