Scientists from Independent SAGE have warned in a statement today that the current lockdown measures may not be sufficient to suppress virus, as latest figures show 52,518 new reported cases and 1,162 deaths in UK
Infections will continue to circulate among essential workers and in classrooms where high percentage of children are still attending school, claims the panel of scientists, chaired by former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King – and with our NHS on brink of being overwhelmed and 10,000 new hospital admissions since Christmas day, the group warned in a statement today that tougher measures may be required to bring R rate down.
Independent SAGE recommends:
- narrowing definition of ‘key workers’ with increased financial support or furlough for those who can’t work;
- tradespeople allowed to enter people’s homes only for essential work;
- suspension of communal services in places of worship
Independent SAGE are also today releasing a ‘Safe Schools’ report, which calls for immediate formation of a National Education Task Force to oversee and advise on safe reopening of schools, to monitor impact of pandemic on learning and mental health and to provide support and interventions.
Ofcom estimates there are up to 1.5m without access to digital devices in the home. Independent SAGE is calling for immediate provision of resources to support online learning for disadvantaged children, to be overseen by a new task force. The group believes that Government proposals for children without access to digital devices to return to school undermines the point of school closures, making the policy less effective, and exposes underprivileged children to risk of greater infection.
Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews said:
“We recognise that, given the extent to which infections have been allowed to run out of control, it is now necessary to close schools down. However, it is entirely unacceptable to shut things down without also acting to make schools safe when they reopen, without providing the resources to ensure that all pupils can study remotely, and without developing plans to address the serious harms caused by closure.”
Professor Reicher added: “As ever, the Government has created a crisis, responded at the last moment with emergency measures but has entirely failed to develop a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the pandemic. This report fills that gap with just such a strategy for schools.”
Further information will be available to the public in the group’s first livestreamed press and public briefing of 2021 today at 1.30pm, which will be available on you tube and will share latest figures presented by Professor Christina Pagel of UCL and special guest Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South.
The scientists’ broadcast can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqqwC56XTP8F9zeEUCOttPQ