'UK not ruling out keeping students at university over X'mas'

International | Written by : IANS| Updated:

'UK not ruling out keeping students at university over X'mas'

London, Sep 24 (IANS) The UK government has not "ruled out" telling university students not to go home during the Christmas holidays if the Covid-19 situation in the country worsens, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

"We haven't reached that point yet. I don't rule out anything," he told the BBC.

"And if you have the last nine months that I've had, you'd understand why we don't rule out anything. It's not something that I want to do.

"But what's important is that we of course keep people safe and keep the virus under control," he said.

Hancock's remarks came in response to a report that scientists have warned the move could be necessary to prevent larger outbreaks "spilling over from (higher education) institutions" when term ends.

Hancock told the BBC that the UK was still "on track" for its target of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

He said the accuracy of the newly-launched contact tracing app for England and Wales was "increasing all the time"

"What we know for absolute sure is the app will not tell you to self-isolate because you have been in close contact with someone unless you have been in close contact."

The UK on Wednesday reported 6,178 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, the highest single-day spike since May 1, taking the total tally to 409,729, official data revealed.

Besides the new cases, 37 new fatalities were also reported due to which the overall death toll increased 41,862.

The spikes came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restriction measures, which could last till for the next six month, to tackle a the recent surge in the country's coronavirus cases.

Johnson confirmed that from Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants in England must operate a table service only -- except for takeaways -- and will be forced to close at 10.

Among other measures, people have been advised to work from home if they can despite advice earlier this month to head back to their workplaces.