Boris Johnson has revealed one of his “greatest misgivings” when looking back to March was the closure of primary schools and insisted teachers face no greater risk than anybody else.

The Government are under increasing pressure to close schools as the new coronavirus variant threatens to spiral out of control.

The latest data shows a 33% rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and January 2.

The government were forced to U-turn and close schools in London following protests and legal pressure from the capital’s authorities.

Now the largest teaching union has called for all schools in England to be closed for a further two weeks.

Speaking to the PA during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London to meet some of the first people to receive the Oxford vaccine on Monday, Mr Johnson said there were “tough tough” weeks to come.

He added: “If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.”

Despite his warning of tougher restrictions he insisted schools were safe, and added: “It’s very important to understand that back in March, one of the things I look back on with the greatest misgivings was the closure of primary schools because it’s so important for young people to get an education.

“That’s why closing primary schools is, for all of us, a last resort. That’s why we are looking at everything else we can possibly do to avoid that.

“I would stress schools are safe and the risk to kids is very, very small.”

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The Prime Minister said the risk to teachers was no greater than to anyone else and the argument for keeping schools open was very powerful.

He added: “The risk to teachers, and of course we will do everything we can to protect teachers, but the risk to teachers is no greater than it is to anyone else.

“The reasons for wanting to keep schools open I think are very, very powerful.”