The government could be set to announce that schools will be closed for a few weeks in response to the spread of coronavirus.

According to Robert Peston's report for ITV News on the UK government's response many schools could remain open to children of key workers, such as nurses. 

The UK Health Secretary said a Bill setting out emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus outbreak will be published on Thursday, and that the government would be making an announcement on the next stage of its plans on Tuesday, following a Cobra meeting on Monday.

Asked what the emergency powers will include, Mr Hancock said they would be shared on Tuesday: “Yes, we’re going to set out the emergency powers on Tuesday and publish the Bill on Thursday.”


Other measures already being planned by the government include the forced requisitioning of hotels and other buildings as temporary hospitals; the requisitioning of private hospitals as emergency hospitals; temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants and emergency manufacture by several companies of respirators that would be necessary to keep alive those who become acutely ill.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: All Scottish schools could close from end of Easter break

Scotland is not planning on isolating over-70s over coronavirus fears, the country’s Health Secretary has said, amid criticism of the UK Government’s communication and strategy.

The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that elderly people are likely to be asked to self-isolate for up to four months – news that emerged from anonymous briefings.

The Health Secretary defended the Government’s response to the outbreak and insisted ministers will publish modelling over the pandemic “in the coming days”.

He also defended the tactics being employed in a bid to combat the spread of the virus saying: “It’s about making sure you do the right thing at the right time. We are prepared to take, if we need to, all the sorts of measures that you discussed but we will do it based on the science.

“Of course there’s a lively debate about what’s the best course of action. The scientific evidence is absolutely critical in underpinning our response.”

Mr Hancock was pressed on when ministers would publish their modelling so the public can assess the scale of the outbreak and scrutinise the Government’s response.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland: Are Scottish schools closed on Monday?

“We are going to do that in the coming days,” he said.

“Our scientists are extremely busy and we’re working incredibly hard, but we will do that in the next couple of days.”

This week, the NEU teaching union joint general secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson to demand answers about the risks of infection to staff and pupils of schools staying open.

The letter says: "Every day, we are increasingly getting asked why schools aren't closing if mass gatherings are to be suspended.

"We all want to limit and delay the spread of the coronavirus and we do think medical advice and expert scientific guidance is important in this regard."