Schools will be shut by Friday, until further notice Boris Johnson has announced.
Schools will close except for looking after the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children.
The Prime Minister’s announcement came as UK deaths reached 104. Confirmed cases in the UK rose to 2,626 on Wednesday, from 1,950 on Tuesday. There have been 56,221 tests carried out in the UK for Covid-19, of which 53,595 were confirmed negative.
The government says it plans to more than double the number of tests being carried out in England to 25,000 a day.
The Prime Minister said: “We think now that we must apply further downward pressure with that upward curve by closing the schools.”
He thanked teachers and head teachers and said that by looking after children of key workers, such as NHS staff, they “will be a critical part of the fight back” against coronavirus.
But he added that children “should not be left” with grandparents or others in groups vulnerable to contracting coronavirus.
This academic year’s exams will not go ahead in England and Wales; decisions are due to be made in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs assessments or exams would not go ahead this year and performance tables would not be published.
But he said officials were working with exam boards “to ensure that children get the qualifications that they need”.
You can read Boris Johnson’s full speech from today here.