Isolate for 10 days before seeing family at Christmas say scientists

People across the UK will be allowed to meet with their families for the first time in months when Covid restrictions are eased at Christmas.

The rules mean a number of households can mix and gather indoors for five days from December 23 to December 27.

But a top scientist has warned that the only way to make the move safe is for people to isolate for 10 days before they head out to visit friends and family.

Former Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King has issued the because of alarming ­infection rates among children, reports The Mirror.

The relaxing of the rules applies in every part of the UK – regardless of restrictions which would normally stop indoor gatherings and household mixing.

Sir David said: “Many children will ­unwittingly have the disease. People will need to be exceptionally careful unless they isolate for between 10-12 days beforehand. There will be a price to pay for Christmas.”

University College London’s Prof Susan Michie of Independent Sage scientists said: “There is a big risk if younger people have not isolated before contact with older relatives.

“If parents know there are going to be vulnerable people around they should want children to self-isolate first.”

One in five children – 900,000 – are not in class either because they have the disease or are isolating with symptoms – a 50-fold increase on September.

Prof Stephen Reicher said Mr Johnson should have kept restrictions tight at Christmas. He said: “The spirit of Christmas should mean the love and strength to keep our distance.”

Prof Gabriel Scally said: “There’s no doubt Christmas will ­increase cases and result in deaths.”

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said it would be a “terrible mistake” to relax restrictions just months before vaccines “start to have an effect”.

Boris Johnson has said that at the first review of the measures in mid-December he would move areas down a tier where there is “robust evidence” that coronavirus is in sustained decline, and that legislation will have a “sunset of February 3”.

Asked about this, Prof Openshaw said the virus must be kept under control.

He told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC: “We scientists are very concerned indeed about relaxation of precautions at this stage. The rates are still too high, there’s too many cases coming into hospitals, too many people dying.

“And if we take the brakes off at this stage, just when the end is in sight, I think we would be making a huge mistake.

“We’ve all sacrificed so much, everyone has sacrificed enormously in order to get the transmission rate down. With only a few months to go until vaccines start to have an effect I think it would just be a terrible mistake.

“I think we must keep this under control and just behave very, very sensibly. It’s extremely difficult to get this right and I don’t envy the politicians.”

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