Williamson told MPs: "The public health benefits of schools remaining open as normal are shifting. I certainly wouldn't want to see profiteering of any kind". The stores are being stripped bare of food and British supermarkets are expecting to get police support to deter unruly behaviour. Westminster's top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the decision was not being taken because Covid-19 is unsafe to children, but because it is an extra step to stop others being infected.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 18), where he said that all schools would be closed "until further notice".
"We're finding that we're connected whether we like it or not, we're finding that we depend on each other whether we like it or not, and I think people have got to put aside the differences they have and global co-operation is absolutely vital to this".
The UK death toll has risen to 144, and the government has unveiled plans for emergency powers to deal with the spiralling outbreak, including forced testing for suspected cases.
"After schools shut their gates to most pupils, they will remain closed to the majority of pupils".
"We're going to do the right measures at the right time", he said, adding that option is being kept "under continuous review".
Nine cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region
One of B.C.'s new cases is a resident of the Haro Centre , a long-term care facility in Vancouver's West End. Thirteen people are now hospitalized in B.C., and there are no new deaths to report in the province.
GCSEs and A-levels in both England and Wales will be cancelled - although the Prime Minister said there are plans for students to receive qualifications.
In Scotland and Wales, all schools will close for an early Easter break by Friday.
The prime minister has said the government is in negotiation to secure anti-body tests capable of telling people whether they have picked up coronavirus - and that it would be prepared to buy "hundreds of thousands" of them.
Up to 40 London tube stations were set to close ahead of an expected lockdown.
Elsewhere, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said he will lead a national broadcast as the Church of England responds to the challenge of becoming a "different sort of church". But cases have been reported from travellers returning home to China.