Gavin Williamson will discuss the government’s contingency planning on GCSE and A-Levels tests in case they take place while the virus is at its peak. According to the Telegraph, ministers and members of the exam boards may delay exams until the next school year. A Downing Street source said no decision had yet been made.
But a A Department for Education source added that Mr Williamson would hold a “private, informal” meeting at some point today.
The Telegraph also understands that organisations including Ucas, the university admissions board, and Ofqual, the exam regulator, are looking at possible options if exams cannot take place as scheduled.
This comes as Boris Johnson will discuss strengthening coronavirus-tackling measures with officials and could make a decision on shielding elderly citizens, banning mass gatherings and household isolation.
The Prime Minister will chair an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee on Monday afternoon before addressing the first of the daily press conferences being planned to update the public on Covid-19.
As the UK death toll reached 35 on Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that over-70s could be told to stay home for up to four months within the “coming weeks”.
Mr Johnson was expected to discuss the proposal, as well as banning mass gatherings and isolating entire households if one member shows symptoms, during the emergency meeting.
Other plans being considered include handing police powers to detain people with the virus who are not following the advice to protect the wider community by self-isolating.
The Prime Minister will also on Monday ask British manufacturers including the Unipart Group to support the production of essential medical equipment for the NHS, such as ventilators which are desperately in need.
But restrictive measures could be announced during the conference.
The Department of Health and Social Care said on Sunday that 14 more patients have died after testing positive for the virus.
This brought the UK-wide total to 35.
The number of confirmed positive tests reached 1,372, but the true figure of people in the UK with the disease is likely to be far higher.
A Public Health England (PHE) briefing, reported by the Guardian, warned health chiefs that the epidemic in the UK could last until spring next year and could lead up to 7.9 million people being hospitalised.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s national infection service deputy director, said: “PHE used reasonable worse-case scenario figures, to restate the importance for people with symptoms to stay at home, including health care workers in order to reduce the spread of the virus.”
The document’s estimate that 15% of the nation could be hospitalised was understood to have been extrapolated from data reported by other nations.
A Bill detailing emergency powers to deal with the outbreak is expected to be published on Thursday.
Published at Mon, 16 Mar 2020 03:37:00 +0000