LEISURE centres and other social venues may have to shut for schools to reopen as evidence shows teenagers could transmit coronavirus as much as adults, Professor Neil Ferguson warned today.
The Professor, who was previously an adviser to the SAGE group of Government scientists, said opening schools again in September as planned would cause the R rate to shoot up by as much as 0.5.
And secondary school pupils may have rotate their weeks and go back part-time to stop the virus spreading out of control.
He also warned that the latest evidence showed that teenagers transmit the virus as much as adults do.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have a lot of evidence now that primary schools, young children, pose very little risk of transmission.
“I think the concern is with secondary schools, teenagers, further education colleges and universities where the evidence is still not certain, but it looks like older teenagers can transmit just as well as adults…
“That poses a real risk of amplification of transmission, of case numbers going up quite sharply.”
There will have to be “some tightening up” of restrictions if opening schools raises the ‘R’ number, he added.
Leisure centres or other social venues could have to shut, and people may have to stay at home rather than going back to the office.
He said: “Whether, in high schools, FE colleges, it is necessary for children to go back 100% or whether we can have other alternative means of provision, children being in one week and out the other week, therefore reducing contacts in school and outside school, or whether we row back on the relaxation of restrictions in the rest of society to allow schools to be fully opened, for instance social venues, leisure venues, more working from home – those things.”
Professor Ferguson quit his role on SAGE when it emerged he’s broken lockdown rules to meet his married lover on multiple occasions.
However, Schools minister Nick Gibb said today that all children would return to classrooms next month – including those in the areas experiencing a partial lockdown in Greater Manchester, and parts of West Yorksire and East Lancashire.
Asked whether the Government would consider closing pubs and restaurants to ensure all children can return to school safely in September, Mr Gibb replied: “Our priority is to make sure that children are back in school with their friends.”