Intended for healthcare professionals


Covid-19: UK holds off closing schools and restricts testing to people in hospital

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 13 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1060
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

People displaying covid-19 symptoms—a new, continuous cough or a high temperature—should self-isolate at home for at least seven days, no matter how mild their symptoms are, the UK prime minister has said.

Addressing the country from Downing Street on 12 March, Boris Johnson said that this measure would help protect others and slow the spread of the disease. He also advised people over 70 to avoid cruises and said that schools should cancel international trips.

He was joined by Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, who said that the UK would no longer be testing mild suspected cases to confirm the virus but would instead “pivot all testing capacity to identify people in hospitals who have got symptoms.” Additionally, suspected cases will now be based on symptoms, regardless of travel history.

People with mild symptoms are expected to self-isolate at home unless they start to deteriorate. The BMJ understands that they will be managed by community services, either online or by telephone.1

Large public events

The address came after the Republic of …

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