A top doctor warned closing schools due to Coronavirus would be a 'worry' as it would put children in contact with their grandparents - and said most people coughing on a bus are 'just coughing'.

Dr Graham Foster, director of public health and strategic planning at NHS Forth Valley, urged for 'sharing of responsibility' to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He described the virus as 'a bit of a cold' and a 'kind of an inconvenience' and said most children 'sail right through it' without knowing they are infected.

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But he told the Alloa Advertiser closing schools could jeopardise the health of OAPs, if they come into contact with their grandchildren.

Dr Foster said: "The good news is, for most people, this is just a mild virus.
"We're going to get a bit of a cold, it's going to be kind of an inconvenience, and at the end of the day we'll have had Coronavirus.

"Children sail right through it, most children are so mildly affected they don’t even know they've got it.

"We need people to be calm and sensible.

"If you're sitting next to someone on the bus and they are coughing, overwhelming chances are they are probably just coughing."

At least ten cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in the NHS Forth Valley area, which has a population of around 300,000.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon had earlier proposed closing schools until the summer and yesterday [Tues] proposed a 'blanket' approach to school closures - but Dr Foster warned there would be associated risks.

Dr Foster said: "There's a lot of debate about closing schools.

"But if we close schools the worry is we put much more children in contact with their grandparents and their elderly relatives.

"Carrying on as normal is the best thing to do just now to keep the population safe and there is good science to support that.

"What we can control is how we catch it, how much health service support we've got for people at the time they catch it, and try and control the number of people who get it at a time so the health service doesn't get overwhelmed.


"Italy is the thing we're trying to avoid happening.

"What we're trying to do is get a slow spread, keep it away from vulnerable people, and the most effective way to do that is to go back to the seven-day message."

He added: "We don't need to worry about children, but at the other extreme, older people and people with underlying health conditions seem to do rather badly.

"It's a disease of the lungs - if you haven't got a lot of lung capacity or young, healthy lungs, it seems to affect those people."

He said it was hoped that the virus could be staggered over a six-month period, rather than a four-week period, to ease the pressure on the NHS.

Dr Foster said: "If we can put some controls in place to make this spread through the population slowly then we'll manage.

"If we get this thing to affect our elderly population over, say, six months instead of over four weeks, then we'll have much more ability to cope and the hospitals won't get overwhelmed.

"That's what the strategy is just now – it's about delaying spread through the population.

"If you get the symptoms, you need to self-isolate.

"The whole strategy is protecting the elderly, protecting the vulnerable, and the way we do that is by slowing the spread so that less people get ill at the same time so that we can cope, help those people and support them.

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"Even the vast majority of elderly will be fine – it's an increased risk, not a guaranteed death sentence.

"Whilst I can't tell you exact numbers, what I can tell you is I expect it to behave like previous pandemics.

"It just seems to behave like a new virus coming into the community and we know how to manage that."