PUBLIC Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The organisation's medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4's Today programme: "Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing.

"What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

"What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms - be it a cough, shortness of breath or fever - then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

"Of course if you've been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway."

He said Public Health England was available to talk to schools about their "specific circumstances" and "help them make the right decisions for them".

BBC Radio 4 presenter Nick Robinson has said he is in self-isolation at home after returning from a trip abroad.

He tweeted: "Two days self isolation at home. What to watch/read ? The Irishman? United beating Watford ? Democratic debate ? Any other thoughts. Need light relief after reading brilliant but harrowing books about. Vietnam War & Killing Fields.

"Thoughts go to all those on NHS frontline working to keep us safe from coronavirus. Thanks to staff at @WhitHealth who tested me last night on return from great holiday in Vietnam & Cambodia. Routine precautionary check on doctors advice. Hope for all clear within 48 hours".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs on the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Hancock will make an oral statement to the House of Commons after Prime Minister's Questions.

World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge said there were now 80,980 cases of coronavirus across 33 countries globally.

Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday he said that 96.5% of all cases were reported from China.

Dr Kluge added: "My key messages are that we empathise with people, we do understand that individuals are concerned for their health and that of their families.

"At the same time there is indeed no need for a panic."

Dr Kluge said four out of five people who contract the virus have mild symptoms and recover.

He added: "We take the virus and the situation very seriously.

"At the same time we should remember that four out of five patients have mild symptoms and recover.

"The mortality is about 2%, in China 1%, and it is mainly people over 65, elderly people with weakened immunity, with other diseases at the same time."

European Commission health and food safety commissioner Dr Stella Kyriakides said Europe must be ready to respond to more coronavirus infections.

"Given how quickly the situation can change - as we have sen in the past few days - even if we are currently in the containment phase our public health response across the EU must be ready to deal with increased numbers of Covid-19 infections," she said.

"To this effect we have requested member states to review their pandemic plans as well as healthcare capabilities including capacity for diagnoses, laboratory testing and procedures for contact tracking.

"All member states need to inform us about their preparations and how they propose to implement them."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, updating MPs, said 7,132 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus.

Of these, 13 have tested positive, and eight have since been discharged from hospital.

He said: "We have a clear, four-part plan to respond to the outbreak of this disease: contain, delay, research and mitigate."

Mr Hancock added guidance has been published in recent days for schools, employers, first responders, social care and the travel industry.

He explained: "If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or an educational setting, no special measures are required while test results are awaited.

"There is no need to close the school or send other students or staff home. Once the results arrive, those who test negative will be advised individually about returning to education.

"In most cases, closure of the childcare or education setting will be unnecessary, but this will be a local decision based on various factors including professional advice."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asked about the Government's plans in the event of a pandemic being declared and about the availability of testing for large numbers.

"Can I reiterate, on behalf of the Opposition, we want to work constructively with the Government on this issue," Mr Ashworth said.

"We are broadly supportive of the steps (Mr Hanock) is taking and I hope he understands that we are trying to be constructive in the questions we are asking and we will continue to thank all NHS staff for the work that they are doing at this difficult time."

Mr Hancock confirmed that home testing would be made available to people across the country.

"We now have testing sites at all A&E facilities, as far as we know across England," said Mr Hancock.

"But we're also planning to introduce home testing and some of this has started already so that people don't have to go to the pod in front of A&E which have been put there to ensure that people don't actually go into A&E where they might infect others.

"But home testing is the safest place to be tested because then you don't have to go anywhere and that will allow us to roll out testing to a much larger number of people as well."

Mr Hancock said it is important not to overreact in response to the Covid-19 virus and said there is no clinical benefit to using thermal imaging at airports to screen passengers.

He said: "Overreaction has its costs too, economic and social, and so we have to keep the public safe but we also need to act in a way that's proportionate."

SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford said thermal imaging might need to be used at airports so the UK "does not end up behind the curve".

Mr Hancock replied: "The clinical advice is not to undertake thermal detecting because you get a lot of false positives and indeed the only country in Europe that undertook thermal detection at the border, that I know of, was Italy and it has now been the scene of the largest outbreak (in Europe)."

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon) urged the public to "calm down" and not subject any particular groups to racism.

She said: "Would he join me in condemning those who are hurling racist abuse at some British Asians both in Oxford and elsewhere because of worry that you can racially profile those who may have this? And that is not acceptable and we need to all calm down."

Mr Hancock also laid out the measures someone who is self-isolating should be taking.

Asked by Conservative MP Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) what self-isolation means, Mr Hancock said: "We updated the advice on exactly what self-isolation means early this week and it does for instance mean going home, and if other people live with you at home, trying to keep out of contact with them.

"It means obviously not going on public transport, leaving the house as little as possible and trying to get other people to do things like collect groceries.

"But it does mean, within a house where there is lots of people living, trying to stay away from others living in that house. I appreciate that that is practically challenging and difficult, especially as a father of three small children I get it, but that is the goal of self-isolation."

Labour MP Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) asked what the advice is to the family members or others living with someone who is self-isolating.

Mr Hancock said: "Other family members who are asymptomatic should go about their normal business in the normal way, it is those who have tested positively who should self-isolate."

Mr Hancock has said he will be discussing with new Culture and Sports Secretary Oliver Dowden whether future Six Nations rugby games against Italy should go ahead.

Labour's Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) said: "The Irish authorities have already advised the Irish Rugby Football Union to call off the Six Nations game against Italy, which indeed obviously affects the north as it is a Northern Ireland team as well, and England are due to play Italy in the Six Nations in a few weeks time.

"What discussions has the Secretary of State had with colleagues in DCMS (Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and with the sporting authorities about advising what to do in relation to the Six Nations championships and other sporting events?"

Mr Hancock said: "Obviously DCMS are involved in the cross-Government decision making on these things. Our goal is to minimise social disruption, of which this is an important part for any rugby fan, subject to keeping the public safe.

"These are difficult balances to strike sometimes and I'll be discussing it with the new Secretary of State of DCMS."

Mr Hancock said the UK will "join up with the Republic" when making a decision on whether future Six Nations games should be played due to health concerns.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr said: "His (Mr Hancock's) counterpart in the Republic of Ireland Simon Harris has said the game (Ireland vs Italy) should be stopped.

"The Department of Health here has taken a much more level-headed approach and said they should monitor the situation.

"The IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) that will ultimately take the decision don't seem to know what to do. Can the minister seriously from that despatch box give clear advice to the IRFU."

Mr Hancock replied: "I can confirm that I will ask the chief medical officer to speak to his Republic of Ireland chief medical officer colleague and to make sure that the very best and appropriate clinical advice is given.

"Rather than me giving it from the despatch box, I'll ensure that we get the best clinical advice and join up with the Republic."

Around 160 Britons are being kept inside a Tenerife hotel hit by coronavirus and they are likely to be kept on site for 14 days, sources told PA.