Pressure piles on Boris Johnson to shut schools due to coronavirus

Pressure piles on Boris Johnson to shut schools due to coronavirus as more than 310,000 sign petition ahead of today’s emergency COBRA meeting

  • More than 310,000 people are today calling on the government to close schools 
  • Petition urges Boris Johnson to shut down schools and colleges across the UK
  • Mr Johnson will chair a Cobra meeting later today to discuss delay phase 

More than 310,000 people are today calling on the government to close schools across the UK amid coronavirus fears.

The petition, started by Sami Attout, urges Boris Johnson to shut down schools and colleges ‘in the coming weeks of as soon as possible’, to prevent the spread of Covid19.  

As the virus is declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation, hundreds of thousands of worried parents are now demanding MPs step up measures to allow them to take their children out of school.  

Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a Cobra meeting to discuss plans to move to the delay phase. Britain now has 460 confirmed cases and eight people have died. 

The petition has garnered more than 310,000 signatures, with 100,000 being the minimum required to secure a debate on the matter in Parliament. 

The petition, started by Sami Attout, urges Boris Johnson to shut down schools and colleges ‘in the coming weeks of as soon as possible’, to prevent the spread of Covid19

The hashtag, ‘#closetheschools’ is trending on social media today as people across both the UK and America raise their fears about the spread of the virus in school buildings. 

The petition states: ‘We would like the government to at least consider closing schools/colleges down in the coming weeks or as soon as possible, in addition to taking necessary actions to prevent further spread. 

‘We would like the Government or Parliament to enforce this action due to the growing fear among parents and students that attend school. 

‘The ability to focus or concentrate is affected in addition to the growing fears of the Coronavirus. 

‘In our view, the government and health officials around the world are more ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’. 

‘This will result in more spread as time is given for the virus to do so. We hope to come to an agreement as soon as possible in a timely manner.’

Speaking on Good Morning today, Dr Hilary said plans to move to the delay phase would help protect the NHS and stop it from becoming overwhelmed.

He also added that children are at a lower risk of contracting the illness.

‘The consensus is that this will peak at the end of April and the beginning of May, we know who is most vulnerable and we need to cocoon these people. If people are sensible now they will reduce the risk for everyone.’

As signatures mount, teachers have been told to prepare home learning packs for students as they prepare for a month-long enforced break. 

The Mirror last night reported that nationwide coronavirus closures could come into effect on March 20 – weeks before the traditional Easter break. 

Durham university is also advising that students on placement in Italy should return home and that large scale conferences and events should be cancelled.

In Denmark, all schools have been closed and Dr Hilary added many places were ‘waking up’ to the scale of the illness.

It announced a number of measures on Tuesday as the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Darlington, bringing the total number of cases in the North East to seven. 

Pictured: Rory Stewart calls for tougher action to fight coronavirus on yesterday’s Good Morning Britain 

The petition comes days after London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart demanded schools close to protect Britons.

The ex-cabinet minister said the government should not shy away from taking an economic hit if it means safeguarding the population.

He said the ‘short-term economic damage’ which would be caused by such measures would be ‘definitely worth doing if you can stave off the bigger spread’ of the virus in the UK. 

The former Tory, who is running as an independent called for all medium and large sized gatherings to be banned and accused Boris Johnson of not being aggressive enough in fighting Covid-19. 

Boris Johnson will hold emergency COBRA meeting TODAY to rule on shutting schools, banning football matches and telling everyone to work from home as UK moves from trying to ‘contain’ virus to just ‘DELAYING’ it – after eighth patient dies 

Ministers will step up their war against coronavirus today after the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak had become a pandemic.

Britain is set to switch from a ‘contain’ policy to ‘delay’, with advice on ‘social distancing’ to stop the disease from spreading.

Hospitals are preparing to cancel thousands of non-urgent operations to free up beds, while sporting events, concerts and festivals scheduled for the next few weeks are likely to be cancelled or held behind closed doors.

The elderly and those with long-term illnesses will be advised to stay at home when the epidemic hits its peak in Britain. Healthy adults will be advised to work from home where possible.

Boris Johnson is expected to usher in the ‘delay’ phase at a Cobra meeting today after the UK saw its biggest jump in infections in a single day. The total rose yesterday – meaning it has more than doubled in just four days. The new cases include health minister Nadine Dorries and a resident at a Hampshire care home.

Another two elderly patients were confirmed to have been killed by the virus yesterday, taking the death toll in the UK to eight.

A Briton has also died from coronavirus during a luxury family holiday in Bali. The 59-year-old had been staying at the five-star Four Seasons hotel.

British nationals from the cruise ship Grand Princess on a bus after disembarking from a plane at Birmingham Airport on March 11. Hazmat-wearing medics met the 135 passengers as they were taken to their transport home 

The 135 Britons who arrived in Birmingham today will quarantine themselves at home after being stranded for days on board the Grand Princess cruise liner 

Passengers appeared relieved as they were driven home in taxis and coaches from Birmingham Airport after finally touching down in the UK on March 11

What ‘social distancing’ will mean for Britons as coronavirus is declared ‘pandemic’ by WHO 

The World Health Organisation’s designation of the killer coronavirus as a pandemic has propelled several Governments – in the US, Denmark, and the UK – to take action to mitigate against its continued spread.

Advice on how people should keep their distance from one another will be issued by the UK Government today after PM Johnson rubber-stamps the formal shift from ‘containing’ to ‘delaying’ the coronavirus. 

People can expect guidance on what measures to take to reduce the risk of contracting the bug.

Advice could include:

  • Staying at home if you have a cough or fever even if you have not travelled;
  • ‘Cocooning’ elderly people suspected of being more vulnerable to the infection; 
  • Standing further apart from people.

PM Johnson is expected to meet with Labour figures today to discuss the planned emergency laws. Measures could include giving the state power to restrict people’s movements, and to bring back retired GPs and nurses. 

According to the Government’s published action plan, the restrictions would have ‘social costs’. 

‘Some of these will have social costs where the benefit of doing them to delay the peak will need to be considered against the social impact,’ said the Government’s action plan.

Her husband was in hospital under observation yesterday, while her four children were in quarantine. She reportedly had several underlying health conditions, including diabetes, chronic lung disease and hypertension.

The deaths came as the WHO warned some countries had been complacent over the outbreak as it upgraded its status to that of a pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said he had been calling for ‘urgent and aggressive action’ on a daily basis, adding: ‘We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

‘We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.’

Dr Ghebreyesus said some countries were struggling with a ‘lack of resources’ – but others had shown a ‘lack of resolve’.

The WHO’s declaration is a recognition that the outbreak has spread across multiple countries beyond initial predictions. Its official definition of a pandemic is ‘an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people’.

On Thursday Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended travel of citizens and residents and halted flights with several states due to coronavirus fears.

The decision includes the European Union, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia, source added, saying the Kingdom also suspended entry to those coming from these countries. 

Until now, ministers in Britain have been trying to contain the spread of the virus but they now accept this is impossible.

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