The threat of COVID-19, more commonly referred to as coronavirus, has reached London, and Prince George and Princess Charlotte's school is taking the risk "very seriously" after a number of students have isolated themselves from others, Thomas's Battersea said in a statement Thursday.
While Romper's request for comment from Thomas's Battersea was not immediately returned, a spokesperson for the school, where Prince George is currently in his third year while Princess Charlotte is in her first, told Spanish publication Vanitatis a "small number of students who have been evaluated" for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which can cause respiratory issues and, though rare, can be potentially fatal to those with weakened immune systems.
"Like all schools we are taking the potential risks connected with the spread of COVID-19 very seriously and to this end we are following the Government's instructions to the letter on infection prevention and case management in which it is suspected that some staff member or student exposed to the virus or showing any symptoms," the statement read. "We currently have a very small number of students who have been evaluated and these individuals remain in their homes waiting to receive the results of their exams."
"All parents have been informed and we have maintained regular communication with our school community to ensure that councils are shared and important information circulated," the statement continued. "Of course, we will preserve the confidentiality of staff and students, and we will not comment on specific cases."
As of Thursday, there have been a total of 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC. Worldwide, there are now more than 80,000 confirmed cases, CNBC reported. In addition to Thomas's Battersea's preventative measures, at least 13 schools in the United Kingdom have reportedly closed for the rest of the week to be cleaned in order to minimize any risk of catching coronavirus, according to The Guardian.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Feb. 26 that schools should resume as normal while awaiting test results for COVID-19 and Public Health England has a response guide in place for schools.
In the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged schools to prepare for a potential outbreak. Right now, in the United Kingdom, government officials are not advising schools to shut down in response to COVID-19. "Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing," Paul Cosford, Public Heath England's Medical Director, told The Guardian. "What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools."
"If we do get to the point of more widespread infection, we will monitor that as it develops, we will take the best scientific advice as to how we may be able to delay transmission further, and if that includes actions to isolate more widely then of course we will do that," he added. "But I think at the moment that is unlikely."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all our Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.