An infectious disease expert said the “next few weeks will be critical” in keeping coronavirus infections low as schools reopen.
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the government’s SPI-M Modeling Advisory Board, told Times Radio that children returning to classrooms would increase the reproductive number – or R-value – of the virus, while more vaccinations would decrease the virus .
He said: “We have to do this balancing act properly and open up with the vaccination rate and keep the R number in check, so to speak.
“In any case, things are moving in the right direction, but the next few weeks will be crucial for us to monitor what happens when schools open.
“Hopefully we can keep everything down and, most importantly, prevent hospital stays from increasing.”
Dr. Tildelsey said parents need to keep social distancing and follow other rules while taking their children to school.
He said, “Just because you’re not home with your young children, don’t use it as an excuse to mingle with other people that you wouldn’t otherwise have done.
“It is possible that with schools open we can keep the R number below one, but if we want to achieve that we must all obey all other rules.”
He added that falling Covid-19 rates are most likely due to lockdown measures and that the effects of vaccinations “are hopefully yet to come”.
He said, “I think the biggest reason the numbers are now going in the right direction is still because of the lockdown.
“I think we haven’t fully seen the effects of vaccination. They are likely to show up now and have some impact, but most of the impact is likely the fact that we have been severely restricted since then in early January. “