Shut schools to stop the spread of coronavirus, advisor urges

5 March 2020, 08:55 | Updated: 5 March 2020, 09:30

By Adrian Sherling

A former government advisor has urged Boris Johnson to close schools to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Children show few symptoms from coronavirus, but can act as carriers to infect family members.

Phillip Blond was an advisor to David Cameron and is now Director of the ResPublica thinktank. He says the evidence shows that shutting schools is the most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of covid-19.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he said: "If we're talking about constraining the spread of coronavirus, there's another thing the government needs to do which it isn't doing which is early school closure.

"We know from the American flu pandemic back in 1918 that the cities that implemented early school closure had 26% fewer deaths and delayed the onset of the peak of the epidemic by 16 days.

"We already know from other studies that the best thing to do is, as soon as you get an infected case in an area, you should close the schools because the schools are the prime vector.

"The greatest return for spreading disease is closing schools. It's far more effective than stopping ill people from going into work.

"The reason people think closing schools is the single most powerful lever is because it essentially constrains all families.

"If your aim is to limit this disease - and the government's overall strategy is to make it into summer before this epidemic hits because all viruses are less contagious in non-winter, the single most optimal thing we can do is early school closures."

READ MORE: Experts correct the myths around coronavirus

Nick Ferrari heard Philip Blond advocate closing all schools to stop coronavirus
Nick Ferrari heard Philip Blond advocate closing all schools to stop coronavirus. Picture: LBC / PA

What should you do if you're worried you've caught coronavirus?

If you think you may have coronavirus, please don't come down to your surgery or A&E and please don't get on public transport.

Stay at home and ring 111. They will triage you from there and if you need help, then help will come to you.

The advice that's gone out to Primary Care and GPs is to get a travel history to see what type of people they have come into contact with.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms include:
- a runny nose
- headache
- cough
- fever
- shortness of breath
- chills
- body aches

In most cases, you won't know whether you have a Coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

But if a Coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, such as your lungs, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people.