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UK pastor 'not panicking' after daughter's school closes due to coronavirus

by Heather Preston
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A pastor in Middlesbrough has stressed the importance of staying calm as cases of coronavirus continue to surge.

Reverend Stephen Sutton (picture above with his wife) was told that his daughter's school, Trinity Catholic Academy in Middlesbrough would be closing as a "precautionary measure" after students returned from a school trip in Northern Italy - where a surge in cases have been reported in recent days.

Authorities in Italy have reported that the number of people infected in the country grew to 322 in 24 hours, and 11 people have now died.

The head of the World Health Organisation says the spread of Covid-19 is "deeply concerning" as several European countries have announced their first cases - which are thought to be linked to the Italian outbreak.

People have now tested positive for the infection in Austria, Croatia and Switzerland.

In the UK, at least six schools across the country have temporarily closed, with students being sent home amid fears they may have been exposed to the virus during trips to Northern Italy.

Reverend Sutton told Premier Christian News that parents of Trinity Catholic Academy received a letter of notification last night.

"I think it's a good safety precaution, but I'm definitely not panicking. 

"There's been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Teesside at all yet, just some kids have come back from a ski trip from an infected area and some of them have some mild flu like symptoms.

"[The school] is just being extra cautious about it by deep-cleaning the school and making sure that if anyone does have a confirmed case that they stop that from spreading."

While only some 30 pupils have presented with symptoms, all those who have returned from Northern Italy have been instructed to self-isolate for the WHO's recommended two weeks.

Sutton says he thinks it's a wise decision by the school to take extra precautions but it shouldn't be any cause for concern at this stage.

He has encouraged Christians to trust in God as news of fresh outbreaks continue to surface: "We've got a great message of hope, despite all of the rubbish that life seems to chuck at us sometimes. And church has always been great at pointing to that. Displaying love and compassion in the present moment, but also pointing to the fact that this life and health is only temporary anyway - we are people who live for eternity."

13 Britons have now tested positive for Covid-19, of whom eight have been discharged from hospital.

Speaking in the Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock said there are now testing sites at all A&E facilities across England and has suggested the roll out of home testing more widely to complement the hospital care.

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