A leading child health expert has assured parents and students that one of the most detailed studies yet will show it is safe for schools to fully reopen next month.
Professor Russell Viner said the research will confirm “there is very little evidence” of coronavirus transmission where pupils have returned.
It comes as Boris Johnson spoke of a “moral duty” to get all children back in school amid indications he would force pubs, restaurants and shops to close in the event of severe coronavirus flare-ups.
The prime minister is understood to favour only closing schools as a last resort after scientific advisers warned more restrictions may be needed to reopen classrooms in England next month.
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One of the most detailed studies yet will show it is safe for schools to fully reopen next month, a leading child health expert has assured parents and students, deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
The research, carried out in 100 institutions in the UK, will confirm “there is very little evidence” of coronavirus transmission where pupils have returned, Professor Russell Viner said.
“The risks to children from Covid are very low and the risks of school closures we know are very serious,” said the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
He revealed the study, by Public Health England, as Boris Johnson beefed up his pledge to bring back all pupils in September, calling continued closures “morally indefensible”.
The prime minister cited growing fears about obesity, depression and abuse, as well as diminished education – with many children having not seen a classroom since the lockdown in March.
Mexico reports nearly 6,500 new cases
Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 6,495 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 695 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 475,902 cases and 52,006 deaths.
Officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Mexico has the third highest coronavirus death tally globally, behind the United States and Brazil.
New Zealand celebrates 100 days without domestic transmission of virus
New Zealand marked 100 days without a domestic transmission of the coronavirus on Sunday, but warned against complacency as countries like Vietnam and Australia which once had the virus under control now battle a resurgence in infections.
New Zealand’s successful fight against Covid-19 has made the Pacific island nation of 5 million one of the safest places in the world right now.
New Zealanders have returned to normal life, but authorities are concerned that people were now refusing testing, not using the government contact tracing apps, and even ignoring basic hygiene rules.
“Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone, however, as we all know, we can’t afford to be complacent,” director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
“We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand,” he said.
The prime minister has been urged to provide compensation for travellers who have been put into the difficult situation of having to quarantine for 14 days when they return from their holiday abroad, amid concerns that France may be added to the quarantine list, Kate Ng reports.
People who are already on holiday in a country that has abruptly been added to the travel quarantine list should be given statutory sick pay for the isolation period, a cross-party group of MPs, scientists and trade unions have said.
It comes after Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas were added to the quarantine list, joining Spain and Luxembourg. All announcements of countries being added to the list were made within just hours before the quarantine rules became effective, giving travellers little time to prepare.
Former Tory cabinet minister David Davis said: “If the government changes the rules while you’re away, and it costs you two weeks’ work, then it’s the government’s responsibility.
“Truth be told, if they don’t do it voluntarily, a smart trade union will take them to court anyway.”
Nearly 1,800 companies told government of plans to cut 20 or more jobs
Nearly 1,800 UK companies told the government of plans to cut 20 or more jobs in June as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, figures suggest.
Royal Mail, Centrica and The Restaurant Group – which owns Frankie and Benny’s – were among those announcing four-digit job losses.
Figures obtained by the BBC in a Freedom of Information request showed 1,778 companies informed the Insolvency Service of their intention to cut more than 139,000 jobs in England, Scotland and Wales.
This compares to 345 companies announcing a total of 24,000 job losses in June 2019, the broadcaster said.
Businesses are required by law to give the Insolvency Service advance notification of potential redundancies where more than 20 staff are to be dismissed in a “single establishment”.
However, companies may not end up making the same number of redundancies as initially suggested and these figures will not contain information of job losses from smaller firms.
Boris Johnson ‘heading to Scotland’ for two-week staycation
Boris Johnson is reportedly heading to Scotland for a two-week summer holiday.
The prime minister previously spoke about allowing a “brief staycation to creep into the agenda, if that’s possible” when quizzed about his summer plans.
The Sunday Times reported the Mr Johnson, fiancee Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred would travel north of the border next weekend.
Only just over half of Britons are committed to taking a coronavirus vaccine, according to new research described as “deeply concerning”, Rob Merrick reports.
People opposed to mask-wearing, those who distrust scientists, and people who believe “too much fuss is being made about the pandemic” are most likely to refuse, it finds.
More young people will also reject the jab – with 22 per cent of under-34s saying they definitely will, or are likely to, compared with only 11 per cent of those aged between 55 and 75.
The author of the study, by King’s College London (KCL), warned that “conspiracy theories and mistrust of government, authority and science” could undermine the best chance of defeating Covid-19.
Schools to stay open as long as possible
Boris Johnson has spoken of “a moral duty” to get all children back in class amid indications he would force pubs, restaurants and shops to close ahead of schools in the event of severe coronavirus flare-ups.
The prime minister is understood to favour only closing schools as the last resort, the Press Association reported, after scientific advisers warned more restrictions may be needed to reopen classrooms in England next month.
Children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield had said the reopening of schools “should be prioritised”, insisting they must be first to reopen and last to close during any reintroduction of restrictions.
But schools minister Nick Gibb said this week that the government cannot “decree” that classroom education would be prioritised, instead saying decisions would be made by local health chiefs.
Obese people could be told to stay home in second wave
Obese people could reportedly be told to stay at home in the event of a second coronavirus wave.
Over 50s would also be included in a “more sophisticated model” of lockdown, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
A Cabinet minister told the paper the plan was to have a “stiletto not a sledgehammer” approach to any future lockdowns.
Referring to the government, they said: “They are understanding that age does come into it.
“The shielding cohort is way too broad – you can’t say that every fat person has to shield. It will be more subtle.”
Good morning and welcome to the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
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