Susanna Reid has revealed that she won’t be pushing her teenage sons to study during the family’s isolation, after one of her children showed COVID-19 symptoms.
Appearing live on Good Morning Britain from her home for a fourth day on Friday, the presenter, 49, revealed that while advice has been given for children to stick to activities amid the pandemic, she insisted that she just plans to ‘give them a break’.
Susanna – who is mother to Sam, 18, Finn, 16, and Jack, 15 – told hosts Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway: ‘People keep emailing me – well-meaning people – who are saying, perhaps you could all learn a language together.
Chilling out: Susanna Reid has revealed that she won’t be pushing her teenage sons to study during the family’s isolation, after one of her children showed COVID-19 symptoms
‘Or perhaps you could all train indoors. I actually think, just this week, I’m just going to give them a break.
‘There’s an overwhelming amount of information and possible anxiety for them if you overexpose them to everything that’s happening at the moment. You know what? Let’s just give them a break.’
Explaining that their break from activities would only be temporary, she added: ‘They can be on their phones, they can be on their PlayStations, they can just chill, and then maybe next week we can start doing some “projects”.’
Video link: Appearing live on Good Morning Britain from her home for a fourth day on Friday, the presenter spoke with Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway
Taking a break: Susanna – who is mother to Sam, 18, Finn, 16, and Jack, 15 – said she plans to be giving her sons ‘a break’
Activities: The TV personality added that her offspring would be relaxing for this week, before possibly taking on activities in the coming days
Acknowledging that she was ‘lucky’ to receive sick pay from her employer, Susanna pushed for the British Government to send in a minister to be interviewed by her and co-host Piers Morgan about how other workers in the nation would be affected.
She said: ‘I’d like to point out that I am very, very lucky, I’m paid even when I am sick. There are people who are self-employed who will face this decision if one of their household is ill.
‘There are people not paid sick pay because they’re on zero-hour contracts, there’ll be people who will be paid statutory sick pay but it won’t be enough for them to pay their bills. I am in a very privileged position compared to a lot of other people.
‘I am following religiously the Government advice and I would like a Government minister to come on Good Morning Britain to answer our questions.’
At home: Susanna has been appearing on GMB via Skype amid the coronavirus pandemic
Remote: The presenter appeared live from her home to offer an insight into how her family has coped with being in isolation
On Thursday, Susanna, who shares her sons with ex-husband Dominic Cotton, admitted that her teenage offspring ‘haven’t been fazed’ by the changes.
She also told GMB hosts Adil Ray and Ranvir Singh that she wanted to question the Education Secretary on what will happen to students’ university places and qualifications after he confirmed that this summer’s exams would not take place.
WHAT IS THE NEW GOVERNMENT ADVICE?
- Avoid social contact
- Work from home if possible
- Avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues
- If someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus (cough, fever or unusual shortness of breath), everyone in the home self-isolate for 14 days
- If isolating, only go outside for exercise, and do it away from other people
- Ask for help with daily necessities like food and medical supplies
- If that is not possible – for example if you live in a remote area – you should limit social contact as much as possible
- Vulnerable groups should self-isolate for 12 weeks from this weekend even if they have no symptoms – This includes people aged 70 and over and other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccination, including people with chronic diseases such as chronic heart disease or chronic kidney disease, and pregnant women. A full list is here
- All unnecessary visits to friends and relatives in care homes should end
- Continue to take your children to school unless they or someone else in your home has symptoms of the coronavirus (cough, fever or unusual shortness of breath)
- Londoners need to socially distance and work from home even more than the rest of the UK because the disease is more widespread there
- Mass gatherings should not happen – they will no longer receive emergency services’ protection if they do go ahead
Susanna appeared on the show via Skype yet again to share the latest on being at home with her sons.
Asked by Ranvir how she and her family were coping, Susanna said: ‘They’re teenagers so nothing really fazes them too much.
‘I think I’d be more concerned if they were a little bit younger perhaps they may be a little bit sensitive in terms of feeling anxious.
‘But actually, they’ve been brilliant, absolutely brilliant, because we are now in what, day four of self-isolation?
‘They are still getting exercise so, as Dr Hilary just talked about, as long as we keep our distance from other people, we’re still able to get fresh air, make sure they’re not going stir crazy or getting cabin fever…
‘You know what teenagers are like, they’re on their phones the whole time!’
Susanna also said that while this meant her family had to think of new ways to stay in touch with friends, it also meant that they were in much better contact with family members.
She told Adil and Ranvir: ‘There might be physical differences from their friends and, as you were saying with social difference, it’s really important to stay in touch.
‘And also looking a few days ahead, it’s Mothering Sunday and normally that would be a big family occasion for us and see mum. Now we’re switching from face to face contact to Facetime contact.
‘My boys said we’ll probably see more of grandma in self-isolation because we’re on Facetime with her all the time!’
Susanna also vowed to question Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on his decision to close schools.
The politician announced that only children of key workers and those who were vulnerable would be allowed to still attend school, and this included nurseries and private schools.
Susanna told Adil and Ranvir that as a parent she wanted to know how students would still receive their qualifications now exams had been cancelled.
Optimistic: Susanna admitted that despite the restrictions her teenage sons ‘haven’t been fazed’, joking they spend most of the time on their phones
Candid: She added that her family has been ‘brilliant’ despite the changes, and added that it’s encouraged her sons be in better touch with other family members
Ahead of Gavin’s appearance on the show later on, Susanna said: ‘It’s really important, I know Gavin Williamson the Education Secretary will be on the show a bit later on.
‘It’s really important he clarifies as far as he can for A-LEvel and GCSE students what this means, will they take their exams or will they get their predicted grades and get their qualifications anyway.’
On Wednesday Susanna begged Good Morning Britain viewers to be more mindful of the elderly as she dialled into the programme from home.
Urging everyone to think of those aged 70 plus, who have been warned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to quarantine themselves at home in a bid to protect them from the deadly virus, Susanna launched into an impassioned speech.
Keep smiling! She said: ‘My boys said we’ll probably see more of grandma in self-isolation because we’re on Facetime with her all the time!’
Determined: Susanna also vowed to question Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on his decision to close schools
She declared: ‘We need to be aware that older people are going to find this very difficult and we need to be, obviously, incredibly supportive.
‘They have been advised to socially distance for 12 weeks. That’s three months! Some older people are lucky because they’re still married or their partner is still alive, they still live alive.
‘Some of them are going to be on their own and not seeing anybody else for three months. We need to be incredibly mindful of carrying on the cause.
‘Encouraging them to work out how to use Face Time, Skype or whatever, so they can carry on seeing people face-to-face, even if it’s via a screen.
‘And also, I think Dr. Hilary [Jones], your point – still going out while they can for walks. At some point there might be a lockdown where we can’t leave our houses.
Keep away! Meanwhile in the studio, Piers Morgan explained he and Ranvir Singh had been ordered to sit apart from one another in a bid to practice social distancing
‘Let’s be very supportive of people and realise it’s actually very difficult to tell people to self-isolate because you get very lonely.’
Meanwhile in the studio, Piers Morgan explained he and Ranvir Singh had been ordered to sit apart from one another in a bid to practice social distancing.
The GMB team has been stripped back to a skeleton staff, with as many people as possible working from home.
Susanna had also Skyped in from her London home during Tuesday’s episode of GMB, after a member of her household developed symptoms akin to those displayed by coronavirus COVID-19 carriers.
After the star adopted the precautionary measure laid out by the World Health Organisation, Piers joked she was self-isolating to avoid him.
Working from home: Susanna had also Skyped in from her home during Tuesday’s GMB, after a member of her household developed symptoms akin to those shown by COVID-19 carriers
Speaking to Susanna via video link at the opening of the show, Piers quipped: ‘I’ve heard some ways of avoiding working with me but this is ridiculous.’
‘Finally after all these years I’ve put myself in self-isolation from you,’ she replied.
Susanna reassured viewers she had no symptoms, explaining that one of her children had mild symptoms that appeared on Monday.
She told Piers: ‘One of my children has a cough, a persistent cough. And that came on yesterday. Before the briefing yesterday afternoon, the advice had been the person themselves would be confined to the house for seven days.
‘Well, suddenly with these new drastic action measures, that changed yesterday afternoon. It meant if one member of your household had the cough or fever you would all have to go in self isolation for 14 days. Immediately, I thought I can’t go into work and work with you guys for 14 days.
Revelation: Addressing Twitter followers on Monday evening, Susanna, 49, admitted she was distancing herself from the ITV production team, her co-hosts and members of the public – despite showing no symptoms herself
Susanna shares three teenage sons with her ex husband Dominic Cotton, and pointed out that one child’s symptoms have meant both households are self-isolating.
‘All the children are off. We’re two households. It’s a very unusual situation. I am very, very lucky. I’m paid even when I’m sick. I’m in a privileged position.’
Asked by Piers how she would cope with enforced time off, she revealed: ‘I love my work, I love coming into work, I love the daily battles, I love the challenge, I love interviewing and broadcasting all this to our viewers. It gives you so much pleasure. I’m going to really miss that for two weeks.’
On how her family was coping, she added: ‘My boys are teenagers, nothing much scares them and certainly not this. They are more concerned with not seeing their friends’.
‘It’s going to be a challenge to fill the day productively. What I found yesterday was, I spent the entire day scrolling through twitter, getting updates… but I’m going to have to spend my time a lot better than just going through twitter for two weeks.’
‘We all think we have a novel in us, whether I spend the next two weeks writing a book or whether I actually do a lot of cooking or baking or whether we set up a home school.’
She explained: ‘That’s really important, I have a perfectly normal temperature, as do all of my children. I do not have a cough, I have no symptoms. I’m not feeling fatigued, I feel 100% healthy’.
No symptoms: Susanna reassured viewers she had no symptoms, explaining that one of her children had mild symptoms that appeared on Monday
‘In other circumstances, before the advice changed yesterday, I would have come into work. Then the advice changed, if there is a persistent cough, and or a fever, then the whole household has to self isolate. There is no test for me to establish whether this is actually the virus and I have huge doubts it is. I really just don’t think it is. I think it’s a seasonal cough.’
Piers was keen to point out that a lack of testing available for coronavirus meant Susanna and her family probably won’t find out if they have they have contracted the virus.
He said: ‘You don’t know your son has coronavirus. You might all be doing this 14 day self isolation. Quite a lot of people for your two households, for no reason. Nobody knows if they’ve got someone who’s got it.’
Susanna agreed, saying: ‘Yesterday we heard from the World Health Organisation, ‘test, test, test’. Here we are not getting tested unless you are hospitalised. The advice for me and my family is don’t even call 111 unless you are really worried… it may be a seasonal cough, there is no fever, no one else has symptoms.’
At home: Susanna shares three teenage sons with her ex husband Dominic Cotton, and pointed out that one child’s symptoms have meant both households are self-isolating
‘That’s one thing for me but what if I was a healthcare worker or a teacher, or a nurse, or a police officer or an ambulance driver?’
She added: ‘It’s very frustrating not to be able to test for it… this could be a rolling 14 day quarantine. These symptoms could disappear after 24 hours. Then somebody else might pick up some of the symptoms.’
Later in the show Susanna joined a debate with resident doctor Dr Hilary Jones, where she pleaded for a government minister to come on the programme to advise viewers on the ramped-up measures.
‘Firstly I am following now religiously now the government advice as it was changed yesterday and as a result of that I would like to ask a government minister to be on Good Morning Britain in order to answer these questions.’
No testing: Piers was keen to point out that a lack of testing available for coronavirus meant Susanna and her family probably won’t find out if they have they have contracted the virus
‘It is absolutely outrageous that they haven’t been and I want to hear answers from them. I’m doing exactly what they are asking me to do. I think it is reasonable that they appear on our programme to answer our questions.’
‘I am in isolation with my family in order to suppress potential infection, if there are people who feel they cannot afford to do the same thing, how is that suppression strategy going to work? And what is the Government going to do so they can fund those people, so they can also comply with this suppression strategy?’
Addressing Twitter followers on Monday evening, Susanna admitted she was distancing herself from the ITV production team, her co-hosts and members of the public – despite showing no symptoms herself.
She wrote: ‘I am currently well but due to the new advice today I will be self-isolating for two weeks due to symptoms in my household. Stay well everyone.’
Susanna’s admission came shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to work from home, stay away from bars, clubs and restaurants and avoid ‘all non-essential contact’ for 12-weeks.
The PM warned that the coronavirus was now in a phase of rapid spread across the UK, with London seeing a particular surge, and it was time to take radical action to stop the NHS being swamped.
Guideline: Susanna’s tweet on Monday night came shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to work from home, stay away from bars, clubs and restaurants and avoid ‘all non-essential contact’
Everyone should avoid contact that is not absolutely necessary – with restaurants, bars and cinemas and travel off limits, and an end to large gatherings. Admitting that the squeeze could last 12 weeks or even longer, the PM acknowledged he was ‘asking a lot’.
Entire households should self-isolate for two weeks if one person has been showing symptoms, and older people should prepare to stay away from risks for months to come. He said that meant ‘you should not go out, even to buy food or essentials’.
The breakneck developments came amid growing criticism of the UK government’s response, which has looked increasingly out of step with that around the globe.
Moments after Johnson’s dramatic press conference, actor Idris Elba revealed he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
In the studio: Susanna featured on Monday’s edition of the show alongside Piers Morgan and resident Doctor Hilary Jones
WHAT ARE OTHER COUNTRIES DOING?
South Korea has the capacity to test around 20,000 people each day – more than any other country in the world.
Officials gave permission to four companies to make kits, with the country desperate to stop the killer virus spreading. It also uses drive-through testing centres.
Figures show the country has now tested up to 300,000 residents, at a rate of 5,000 per 1million inhabitants, according to reports.
In contrast, the rate in Britain is around seven times lower – at just 700 per 1million, MailOnline can reveal.
South Korea’s outbreak – which has seen almost 8,500 cases and fewer than 100 deaths – has curtailed in the past week.
Fewer than 100 patients are being diagnosed each day, which leading scientists say is because of the country’s rigorous testing programme.
Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist based at Korea University, told Science magazine: ‘Lab testing is essential to control an emerging infectious disease.’
The coronavirus crisis began in China at the end of December, and saw hundreds of millions of people locked down in a desperate attempt to contain the crisis.
But World Health Organization experts said it was Beijing’s decision to test all suspected cases and then isolate their contacts was more important than the country-wide quarantines.
The UN agency’s assistant director general Bruce Aylward told New Scientist testing ‘stopped transmission in China, not the big travel restrictions and lockdowns’.
More than 80,000 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in China and at least 3,000 patients died of the infection.
Italy is at the centre of Europe’s ever-growing coronavirus outbreak, with more than 31,000 confirmed cases and at least 2,500 deaths.
At the beginning of the spiralling crisis at the end of February, health officials tried to test every suspected case.
Virologists praised the approach, saying the strategy of ‘over-testing’ was ‘right and sensible’. Around 130,000 people have already been tested in Italy.
Authorities have already managed to completely halt the outbreak in one small town near Venice because of the rigorous approach.
The Financial Times reports that Vò – 45miles (72km) east of the tourist hotspot, has had no new cases for 48 hours.
And the outbreak in Lombardy, the northern Italian region that has suffered the most from the deadly infection, is slowing down, officials say.
At the other end of the scale, the US has repeatedly been criticised for not testing enough people – with around 50,000 tests carried out so far.
Some states, such as Alabama and Delaware, have swabbed fewer than 100 people, according to an independent tracker.
President Donald Trump has declared a national state of emergency and announced additional measures to expand testing.
Now, all US states can make, validate and use their own tests rather than wait for the approval of the FDA – the US regulatory body.
Health and state officials have widely blamed the testing shortage for the steep rise in US cases.
They say it both delayed public knowledge of just how many cases there were and allowed the disease to continue to spread from unwitting carriers.