MASKS should be worn in classrooms and offices, and the 2m rule brought back as part of a fresh crackdown on the mutant Covid spread, SAGE experts have said.
Freshly revealed documents from last week recommended a new push to try and combat the quickly-moving new strain.
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More than 55,000 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths were recorded today – another record high – and doctors warned they hadn’t even seen the effects of Christmas yet.
The new documents also revealed that even if schools closed in a March-style national lockdown, it STILL may not be enough still to get the R below one again – thanks to how easily the new variant can get from person to person.
They recommend a range of fresh measures to try and clamp down on cases – some of which have already been put in place in the week since it was written.
- Another national lockdown is likely to be necessary, along with extending Tier 4 and closing schools
- Ministers should reconsider putting back in place the 2m rule, which was cut to 1.5m in the summer
- Government should reinforce the importance of face coverings in areas where they aren’t already – such as work places and classrooms – but they don’t say whether the law should be changed
- Places should be even more ventilated to account for higher transmission of the virus in the air
- Extra travel restrictions may be needed between regional and internationally too
- Tier 4 should be extended – which has now happened twice since the paper was written
- Schools openings should be looked at again – as it was announced yesterday that there would be a delay in returning for millions of kids
The package of measures should come alongside effective track and trace, and making sure people are isolating when they are sick, the documents said.
Vaccinating the population quickly was another integral part of the plan to combat the super spread.
Ministers should urge people to keep their household contacts indoors as low as possible, and make sure people wear masks inside when they can’t keep apart.
SAGE experts predicted that there will be increased transmission of the virus in the main three ways the old one was travelling too – close-range, airborne, and via surfaces.
Scientists also admitted they did not have a lot of information about the new strain yet.
They don’t yet know whether people are infectious for longer, or whether the new strain spreads evenly across the age groups.
The symptoms are thought to be the same, and there’s no evidence yet it won’t be effective against the vaccine.
Matt Hancock revealed this week that the new strain is becoming the dominant one across the UK because of how fast it spreads – and has accounted for around 60 per cent of the current infections.
Yesterday Gavin Williamson announced secondary schools across the nation would stay closed for at least an extra two weeks – which may be extended in hotspot areas.
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Some 15 per cent of the nation’s primary schools will remain closed until January 18th too, but the children of key workers and vulnerable kids can still go in.
SAGE documents said closing secondary schools would have a bigger effect, and it was highly unlikely that the current measures would keep the R above one if all schools stayed open.