Schools in Scotland and Wales are to close from Friday in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
It is expected the UK government will announce shortly that schools in England will follow suit.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says schools have now lost too many staff to continue as normal.
Meanwhile, the government is bringing forward emergency legislation to protect private renters from eviction after being urged to do more for them.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350bn of help for companies and mortgage “holidays” for home owners.
Confirmed coronavirus cases rose in the UK to 2,626 on Wednesday, from 1,950 on Tuesday. A total of 71 people have died.
In other developments:
- UK supermarkets bring in strict limits on purchases
- European Union countries have begun turning away travellers from outside the bloc
- Share prices fell in Europe and Asia as stimulus packages failed to reassure markets
- The World Health Organization said South East Asian countries must “act now” to tackle the virus
- There are more than 200,000 cases worldwide and more than 8,000 people have died
- Britons in Spain are being urged by the Foreign Office to return to the UK before 24 March when all Spanish hotels close
- The BBC puts filming of EastEnders on hold and Glastonbury Festival is postponed
- Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in the Netherlands, is cancelled
- Prof Neil Ferguson, who has been advising the UK government on its response to the outbreak and was in Downing Street earlier this week, tweeted that he was self-isolating after developing coronavirus symptoms
The move on schools in Scotland and Wales will be welcomed by headteachers who have been struggling to keep their doors open, with growing numbers of staff and pupils off school.
But there are concerns over how closures will impact pupils from poorer homes.
Prime Minister’s Questions took place in a half-empty House of Commons, after Labour and the Conservatives told MPs not scheduled to raise a query to stay away.
Paying tribute to teachers’ efforts, Mr Johnson told MPs he wanted to do more to “remove burdens on schools” and said further decisions would be taken imminently on schools and how to “square the circle – making sure we stop spread of the disease but relieve pressure on the NHS”.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to make a statement on the situation in England at 17:00 GMT.
Wales education minister Kirsty Williams said she was bringing forward the Easter break and all schools would close by Friday at the latest.
Childcare centres are expected to remain open until further advice is given, Ms Williams added.
Ms Sturgeon said schools and nurseries across Scotland would close from the end of this week and may not reopen before the summer.
Northern Ireland’s education minister Peter Weir said he could not give a date for school closures but any shutdown could potentially last until the start of the autumn term.
In other UK developments:
- Parkrun, which organises 5km weekly runs around the world, has suspended its 675 events in the UK until at least the end of March
- Department store chain Selfridges is closing its London, Birmingham and Manchester stores from 19:00 GMT on Wednesday
- The United Synagogue – the biggest group of synagogues in the UK – has closed all of its synagogues until further notice
- British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been temporarily released from prison in Iran because of the outbreak. She will be required to remain within 300m (984ft) of her parents’ home in Tehran
- All non-urgent operations in England and Scotland will be postponed from 15 April for at least three months to free up beds for virus patients
- The Foreign Office advised British nationals to avoid all non-essential foreign travel for at least 30 days
- No new Crown Court trials will take place in England and Wales if they are expected to last longer than three days
- The government set out emergency legislation, which would give police the powers to arrest and isolate people to protect public health