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Boris Johnson has advised that schools will not yet close amid the spread of coronavirus.
The prime minister said this could change as the disease continues to spread, but that the science suggested this measure could do more harm than good at the present time.
Following a Cobra meeting, he said: "We have a clear plan that we are now working through and we are now getting onto the next phase in that plan. This is now not just an attempt to contain the disease as far a as possible, but to delay its spread and thereby minimise suffering.
"We are not, and I repeat not, closing schools at this time."
Johnson added that the most dangerous point of the spread was still ahead and 'many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time'.
While continuing to reiterate the importance of washing and drying hands thoroughly, the prime minister also offered new guidance for those with any coronavirus symptoms.
He said: "From tomorrow if you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild, either a new continuous cough or a high temperature, then you should stay at home for at least 7 days to protect others."
The reason for this isolation period is because the virus has been found to be most contagious in the week after symptoms first present themselves.
Dr Patrick Vallance, chief science adviser, said the number of confirmed positive cases in the UK is likely to be far smaller than the actual figure.
He said: "It's far more likely that we have between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected at the moment. We've identified 590. That's still a relatively small number."
He added that universal household isolation would not help at this stage as we need to develop some immunity.
He said: "With the idea of households going into complete isolation that comes a bit later. At the moment most people would not have the coronavirus. You may have to do the whole thing again, and then the effect of that wains. People don't want to do that time and time again.
"It's not possible to stop everyone getting it and it's also not desirable, because we need to have some immunity to protect ourselves in the future."
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