‘Inevitable’ children returning to school will cause Covid cases to rise, says government adviser

‘Inevitable’ children returning to school will cause Covid cases to rise, says government adviser


‘Inevitable’ children returning to school will cause Covid cases to rise, says government adviser

‘Inevitable’ children returning to school will cause Covid cases to rise, says government adviser

Children returning to schools this week will lead to an “inevitable” rise in Covid infection rates, a government scientific adviser has warned.

Professor Calum Semple, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the impact on case numbers of classrooms opening up was a “worry”.

Asked if he expected to see an increase in infections, Mr Semple told the BBC: “Yes, we do, and this is a worry.”

But he added: “With roll out of the vaccination, the vast majority of people who are at risk from severe disease will be protected. The race now along the roadmap to reopening society is to get the rest of the adult population vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can return to a degree of normality.”

Monday saw all pupils in all year groups able to return to the classroom, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

The relaxation is the first step in the government’s four-stage plan to gradually ease lockdown restrictions in England.

Secondary schools can stagger the return of students over the week to allow for mass Covid testing, with the government also advising that these pupils wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible.

Primary school children are not required to carry out Covid tests or advised to wear face masks on their return.

Professor Semple backed the plan for returning children to school and said society needed to learn how to live with the virus.

“The measures that are in place to allow the kids to go back in a safer way are good,” he said.

“Put as a package, I think it is as good as we can get, and to allow children to get back to education.”

He also sounded an optimistic note for the rest of 2021, saying the evidence suggested Covid vaccines were effective against variants in common circulation in the UK and expressing “cautious optimism that the rest of the year is going to be much better”.

He said: “I think we will see a small to moderate sized increase in cases come autumn, I think that is almost inevitable.

“But hopefully we won’t see the surge in cases or the pressure on intensive care beds. I am feeling optimistic about it.”


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