‘Circuit breakers’ EVERY school holiday: SAGE expert says two-week lockdowns at breaks could disrupt coronavirus spread before vaccine is developed
- Professor Graham Medley said short lockdowns could help reduce Covid spread
- Implementing them around school holidays would minimise disruption, he said
- He also told BBC Radio Four that one week would not be enough to have impact
A top scientist and SAGE expert has today said two-week circuit-breaker lockdowns around school holidays could be used to disrupt the spread of the virus ahead of a vaccine.
Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who is also on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee, said the lockdowns could be imposed around school holidays – to minimise the impact on children.
He also warned some parts of the country could be back to where the country was in March – when national lockdown measures were imposed.
But he stopped short of backing such a scheme, which he said were simply proposals.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘So the basic idea, and it is an idea, people say I’m calling for it, but we are not calling for it, it’s work between myself and Professor Matt Keeling and his team, is a proposal, it’s a way of reducing prevalence and having some control over the virus without having to go into severe restrictions before you have to.
‘Potentially if you can do it half-term, can do it around Christmas holidays and February half term.’
Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also warned some parts of the country could be back to where the country was in March – when national lockdown measures were imposed. Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the current base level of restrictions, which includes a 10pm curfew, were the ‘worst of all worlds’
He also warned some parts of the country could be back to where the country was in March – when national lockdown measures were imposed
Asked how long the circuit-breaker lockdowns would have to be, he said: ‘Well a week isn’t long enough, because it takes somebody infected a day before you go into that break, who will still be infected before you come back, so it would need to be two weeks.’
‘People have said it is kicking the can down the road, but treatment is getting better and there is a prospect of a vaccine and a low prevalence is effective because it makes everything in the system work better.’
It comes as fellow SAGE member, Professor Jeremy Farrar, said the current base level of restrictions, which includes a 10pm curfew, were the ‘worst of all worlds’ as they inflicted economic damage while not going far enough to suppress the virus.
The director of the Wellcome Trust told the BBC’s Newscast podcast a short ‘circuit-break’ should have been introduced in September and implored ministers to ‘act’ as soon as possible.
He added that national restrictions were a better option – and making the row over the three-tier system a north-south or party political issue was ‘a very dangerous route’.
Professor Farrar also said that countries had controlled Covid-19 well so far such as South Korea and New Zealand had a ‘national consensus about the way forward’.
He added: ‘I think we’ve got to come together as a country, this fragmentation, and frankly making this either a north-south or a party political issue, that’s a very dangerous route to go on.
‘What we don’t want now is a fragmentation or confusion – one area or region or city pitched against another. I think that would be very, very damaging to public health and the country’s ability to respond.’