SAGE member: 'Difficult decisions have to be made' around closing schools and universities

4 January 2021, 16:54

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A member of SAGE has told LBC that "very difficult decisions" now have to be made around closing education settings as the Covid crisis deepens.

Speaking to LBC in a personal capacity, Calum Semple a Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool and member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) set out some details.

When LBC's Eddie Mair asked him where we were in terms of the coronavirus, the response was that the UK is in a "really difficult situation."

He said the new Covid variant was "without a doubt more transmissible across all ages."

The expert emphasised that the new strain of the virus was "sparing the children severe disease."

Read more: 'We're all exhausted' - NHS nurse tells LBC the 'dire' state at her hospital

But he warned that because schools and universities were "one of the few areas that are still open," he said he thought "very difficult decisions have to be made" around education settings.

The professor pondered once non-essential retail is closed and entertainment, "what else is left open? It's the schools and universities."

When asked to explain what "more transmissible" means the professor said that the two-metre rule "no longer works as well as you would want it to," before setting out how the virus spreads.

Read more: Boris Johnson confirms tougher new Covid-19 measures will be announced soon

Read more: More Tier 3 areas could move to Tier 4, Health Secretary suggests to LBC

The conversation comes ahead of a televised address by Boris Johnson setting out new emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus in England.

A No 10 spokesman said that the move was in response to the "rapidly escalating" numbers of infections following the emergence of the new variant.

The statement, to be made at 8pm on Monday, will be followed by the recall of Parliament on Wednesday so MPs can debate the measures.

Watch: 'This virus is out of control, the NHS is stretched, staff are stretched...' Mayor of London tells LBC

A No 10 spokesman said: "The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.

"The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives."

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