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REOPENING schools too early during the current pandemic would be “crazy” and could cause a surge in deaths, forcing Britain back into full lockdown again, a group of scientists warned today.
The Bradford Science Collective, formed “to counter government propaganda about the coronavirus, untainted by political influence,” gave the warning in its first public statement.
The collective involves scientists from Yorkshire universities, and was founded by Professor John Baruch of Leeds and Bradford universities.
Covid-19 often produces no symptoms in the first four or five days, but a patient can be highly infectious during that time.
With many children who contract the disease never showing any sign of being ill, opening schools would spread the virus right across the community, the report said.
“One child whose family has the virus will bring it into school. Every cough or sneeze will infect all around them, everything they touch — door handles, pens.
“On day one, they may only infect five of their fellow students. On day two, each of these five will infect another five, and on day three, all the school and the teachers will be infected and they will infect their families,” the report warned.
“There will be no signs for four or five days and then some of the children will become ill.
“Many of their parents and families will become ill. The virus will go right across the community and the death rate will soar.”
The collective stressed that only the testing of people and the tracing of those found to be infected, plus those they have had contact with, would prevent the spread of the virus.
The report suggested that the present lockdown strategy has to be pursued until every public-facing worker has all the personal protective wear necessary to keep everyone safe and testing is made available to everyone suspected of carrying the virus.
“Opening the schools before we test every child and track every contact will, in three weeks, produce a surge in the death rate, forcing us back into lockdown again,” the report said.
The warning follows a National Education Union (NEU) report on “unanswered questions” that members have presented to the government, demanding that ministers share the evidence and modelling on which their decisions are based.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “These questions must be addressed before any wider opening of schools is proposed or no educator or parent can have confidence in such proposals.”
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