The UK has the most coronavirus deaths in Europe, and among the worst death rates in the world. This should be seen as a dramatic failure in the government’s handling of the crisis. Now we are being forced to return our children to schools with no assurances of safety or functional testing and tracing programmes, but rather with an ill-conceived concept of mole-whacking after outbreaks occur and an astounding promise to close pubs before schools (Pubs will shut before schools in a Covid upsurge, says PM, 28 August).
Last week I received a letter from my county council suggesting that I place my family in a dangerous public health situation by returning my small children to their schools. It states that “Out of more than 1 million children attending pre-school and primary school in June, just 70 children were affected”, but neglects to note that testing is and was limited largely to those with symptoms, which children rarely display. How many of the 1 million children were tested? How could you know the extent of Covid-19 among them?
Speaking as the spouse of a person severely afflicted with Covid-19 and its long-term consequences, I can say from personal experience that adults can and do catch this terrible disease at schools from sick children.
The letter goes on to say: “There is also no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.” But the same thing can be stated in the positive: children are just as likely to transmit the disease as any other age group. As such, this letter seems to make the inverse point to that intended: mixing children in schools is a massive public health risk.
• In among the wealth of articles and comment about the importance of sending children back to school and the relative safety of doing so, I’m still looking for anything recent about the risk to adults from schools reopening.
Preston council recently suggested that young people “don’t kill granny” by breaking lockdown and getting together, but large gatherings of young people in school could do just that. I want my grandson back in school as much as he wants to go. But I’m finding no support or advice for people like me who are older, have health issues and are vulnerable if they get the virus, and live with school-aged children. Can we conclude that “grannies” have now become acceptable collateral damage in the push to restart the economy?
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