Secondary school kids driving up Covid infection rates, SAGE claims

Government scientists say secondary school pupils are driving infection rates in households during the Covid second wave.

Schoolchildren aged from 12-16 years old helped push up infection rates in people's homes between September and October.

While the number of older kids with coronavirus has increased "significantly" during the latest wave of the pandemic the difference is less marked for younger children, the document says.

The claims were made in a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) report published on Friday, according to the Mirror.

It comes as schools, colleges, nurseries and universities remain open during England's month-long lockdown – which began on November 5.

While there is no direct evidence suggesting transmission in schools has a "significant contributory role" in driving up children's infection rates "neither is there direct evidence to suggest otherwise" the review says.

The review said: "In the second wave, prevalence has risen significantly in school age children, with the rise increasing initially among those in school year 12 (age 16/17) – age 24 and young people (e.g. secondary school age). The rising prevalence was first visible around the time that schools reopened."

SAGE has said there is low risk to children of suffering severe clinical disease from Covid-19 but there are "significant educational, developmental and mental health harms" to children from schools being closed.

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It adds there is some evidence that epidemic growth restarted before the reopening of schools.

Last week, all students and teachers in secondary schools and colleges in England were told to wear face coverings when moving around the premises under Government guidance.

Separate data from the Office for National Statistics said secondary school-aged children, older teenagers and young adults continue to have the highest positivity rates.

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But rates are now decreasing in older teenagers and young adults, and appear to have levelled off among younger children, teenagers and those aged 25 to 34 years, it added.

Positivity rates continue to increase in people aged 35 years and over, and are now above 1% among those aged 35 to 49 and 50 to 69 years, the ONS said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The chief and deputy chief medical officers have been clear the balance of evidence is firmly in favour of schools remaining open, and have highlighted the damage caused by not being in education to children's learning, development and mental health.

"Children are at very low risk from the virus, and staff are not at higher risk than those working in other sectors.

"We have strengthened the already rigorous measures schools are following to reduce transmission of the virus, including requiring face coverings in all secondary schools in communal areas outside classrooms."

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