19 Mar 2020

Schools shut across the UK, 3rd UK MP tests positive

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 19 March 2020

UK correspondent Matthew Parris joined Kathryn to talk about the Covid-19 situation across the UK as the death toll there rises to 104 Schools in Scotland, Wales and England are due to close to all but the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children.

Parris said the government hasn’t indicated when the schools will reopen.

A person wears medical mask as a precaution against coronavirus (COVID-19) in London, United Kingdom on March 18, 2020.

Photo: 2020 Anadolu Agency/ AFP

“We’ve got the Easter holidays coming up, but they’re not promising schools will reopen as they ought to after the Easter holidays.”

He said Rory Stewart, a candidate for Mayor of London, suggested all schools be closed about ten days ago and was accused of spreading hysteria and panic. 

“It’s amazing how fast the mood is changing.” 

Follow our live coverage for the latest news on Covid-19 here.

Parris said the government’s stimulus package has been universally welcomed. It offers loans to business, tax holidays, and rates holidays. 

“A key phrase from chancellor Rishi Sunak’s speech was ‘whatever it takes’ and that’s very much the mood at the moment. It’s not yet clear how these grants and loans are going to be qualified for or doled out.” 

While there’s bipartisan support for the package, the Labour Party is stressing the importance that not only are businesses kept afloat, their employees are also protected. 

Parris said the reversal of the herd immunity plan in the UK - where people protect the elderly, but allow the virus to take hold - comes after a major falling out of top public health officials. 

“The theory of herd immunity is not being denied, but what has changed is advice being given from a couple of experts that this virus is mushrooming so fast that, whatever your theories about herd immunity, we’re soon going to have more people wanting to get into hospital than we have the facilities to treat them.”

With London heading toward a near shutdown and public transportation seeing roughly a 50 percent drop in passengers, Parris said people seem to be getting the message about how they should behave. 

“But, in terms of what we’re to do with our lives, I think there’s a feeling - not of panic - but of strange confusion. We’re all in a landscape which is entirely alien to us. You’ve got to be over 85 to remember the second world war - no one has ever experienced anything like this before.” 

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