Groups of pupils should only be sent home if there has been a positive test,
rather than someone just developing symptoms, the prime minister has said.
Boris Johnson said it was important for teachers and parents to examine the Public Health England guidance about coronavirus testing.
Speaking to MPs on the Liaison Committee, he reiterated government policy when he said: “The reasons for sending such a class home, or a bubble home, would be if somebody tests positive.”
It comes as a teaching union leader warned that schools are struggling to cope with a lack of COVID-19 tests for pupils and staff as the situation is becoming “increasingly out of control”.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, has called on the government to prioritise the education sector for the allocation of tests in light of widespread challenges.
And the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said it has received 264 responses from schools and colleges in recent days where leaders have said they have symptomatic staff and/or pupils who were struggling to access tests.
Mr Johnson admitted overall demand for tests in England has “massively accelerated” in the last two weeks and there is not enough capacity to meet it.
The PM insisted: “We have massively increased our testing capacity. I know that many people have had infuriating experiences, and I do sympathise with them.
“And the distance that you have to travel to get a test has come down just in the last week. On average from about six or seven miles to about five miles.”
The PM also told MPs that the government will “very shortly” be setting out “the priority of the groups that we think should have tests”.
He added: “In schools, it’s very important that parents and teachers should look at the guidance about when you should get a test.”
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has told Sky News’ Kay Burley that schoolchildren and their parents could be prioritised for coronavirus tests – after hospitals and care homes – as the government deals with “real challenges” in the system.
The government has come under growing pressure over a lack of availability of tests in some parts of England – blamed on problems with laboratory capacity – and admitted it could take a “matter of weeks” to solve the issues.
Tests were not available for people with coronavirus symptoms in some of the worst-affected areas on Wednesday, including Bolton and the local authority of Oadby and Wigston in Leicestershire, as well as Preston and Oldham, said the PA news agency.
Bolton currently has the highest infection rate in England with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people.
Mr Johnson also said he did not want a second national lockdown as it would likely have “disastrous” financial consequences for the UK and “we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it”.
The UK has recorded 20 more deaths of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to government figures.
There were 3,991 new daily confirmed cases of coronavirus, compared with 3,105 on Tuesday, the figures show.
Mr Johnson said an inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic would “look at everything that has gone wrong and gone right” but would not be a “good use of official time at the moment”.
© 2020 Sky UK
Donnez votre point de vue et aboonez-vous!
Votre point de vue compte, donnez votre avisTéléchargez notre application Android