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UK ‘should have two-week circuit-break lockdown every half term’

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UK 'should have two-week circuit-break lockdown every half term' Shutterstock|PA
A two-week circuit-breaker could stop the virus from spreading, an expert has suggested (Picture: Shutterstock/ PA)

Holding a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown during half-term and the Christmas holidays could help prevent the spread of coronavirus, a scientist has said.

Professor Graham Medley, who is on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee, said he was working on an ‘proposal’, which involved placing the country under temporary restrictions while children are out of school.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a week-long circuit-breaker wouldn’t be enough to ensure anyone with the infection does not come into contact with others. He went on: ‘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.

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‘Potentially if you can do it half-term, can do it around Christmas holidays and February half-term.’ 

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He added: ‘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.’

Prof Medley, who is an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also said he thought some hospital facilities could soon be ‘back to the same kind of position they were at the end of March’.

Schools are soon breaking for half-term (Picture: PA)
Teacher Catherine McClean has her temperature checked by assistant teacher Hilary Brennan at St Clare's Primary School in Belfast wearing PPE, as primary 7 year pupils are allowed to return to school in Northern Ireland. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday August 24, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The government must balance the impact of intervention with the need to protect the NHS, Professor Medley said (Picture: PA)

He said: ‘All the evidence is that prevalence is increasing and we are going into a situation where the focus is very much going back on to hospitals and health care. Within a couple of weeks some areas are going to be back to the position they were at the end of March beginning of February.

‘We are struggling at the moment to understand how we’re balancing that imperative of having to prevent healthcare being completely overwhelmed and yet how to mitigate against the damage caused by the intervention which of course is huge.’

He added that he wasn’t calling for the circuit-breaker lockdown, noting that at this point it remained only an ‘idea’.

A circuit-breaker style of lockdown has also been backed by the Mayor of London, who warned that tier restrictions could go on for ‘months and months’.

Sadiq Khan said: ‘SAGE say the most effective way to slow down the spread of the virus is to have, for a couple weeks, a national circuit-breaker, which should be really hard for those two weeks. But it would avoid months and months of additional restrictions.’

He went on to say the government had ‘rejected that advice’ and described the new three tier system as ‘restrictive of our liberties and damaging to businesses, council budgets and individuals, potentially’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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