Balancing the Risks of Pupils Returning to Schools
Friday, July 24, 2020
As we move into a phase of continuously reviewing decisions to keep schools open or shut, we need to recognise there are risks from having schools open and risks from having schools shut. In open schools, the risks to pupils themselves from COVID-19 are very low, though there are risks to school staff, parents/carers and the wider community. Closing
schools causes loss of learning and deterioration in children’s mental and physical health, for example. Keeping schools shut increases inequalities, in both children’s education achievement and their long-term prospects. The goal of “levelling up” therefore needs schools to be open. Keeping schools open is also the key to unlocking the rest of the economy, allowing parents to leave teaching to teachers and return to their own jobs. The evidence on the infection risk from school opening is limited, though to date it suggests that the risk from opening schools, relative to restarting many other activities, is not as high. The experience of most other countries which have already taken this step supports this. By contrast, the evidence on the negative impact of closing schools is considerable and robust.
Scoping Report on Hospital and Health Care Acquisition of COVID-19 and its Control
Monday, July 6, 2020
- The focus of this report is on SARS-CoV-2 infection acquired in hospital. It is timed to inform decisions about the opening up of hospitals and other healthcare settings for non-COVID-19 activities and NHS plans for winter and future waves of COVID-19.
- Transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals and social care settings in patients, residents and staff has been recognised as an important feature of the COVID-19 epidemic throughout the world; efforts to prevent infections have had varying success. Transmissions early in the epidemic reflected evolving understanding of the disease (e.g., the risk of asymptomatic infection and role of masks in source control) and limited access to testing and personal protective equipment.
Test, Trace, Isolate
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
When effectively implemented at scale, Test, Trace, Isolate (TTI) can contribute to controlling the UK COVID-19 epidemic, but only as part of a wider package of public health interventions, including physical and social distancing, control of infection procedures, outbreak investigation and control. TTI is most effective in breaking chains of transmission, and reducing the effective reproductive number (Re), when there is maximum: (i) speed, i.e., quick turn-around of both index case testing and contact tracing (and testing); (ii) compliance, i.e., a high proportion of people in each chain are willing and able to follow guidance; and (iii) coverage, i.e., identification of most chains through integration of consistent case data and real-time, high-precision population surveillance. Each of these three aspects of TTI needs careful attention, as do the trade-offs implicit in choices of how precisely to implement TTI in terms of who to test, trace and isolate, and when to do so.
Face Masks for the General Public
Monday, May 4, 2020
An update to this report is available here.
Face masks could offer an important tool for contributing to the management of community transmission of Covid19 within the general population. Evidence supporting their potential effectiveness comes from analysis of: (1) the incidence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission; (2) the role of respiratory droplets in transmission, which can travel as far as 1-2 meters; and (3) studies of the use of homemade and surgical masks to reduce droplet spread. Our analysis suggests that their use could reduce onward transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic wearers if widely used in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable, contrasting to the standard use of masks for the protection of wearers. If correctly used on this basis, face masks, including homemade cloth masks, can contribute to reducing viral transmission.