CORONAVIRUS: School infection rates rise but don't justify early Christmas closure, says health chief

Covid-19 infection rates in Lincolnshire schools have risen, but are still too low to justify closing them early, health bosses have said.
Derek Ward director of public health Lincolnshire County CouncilDerek Ward director of public health Lincolnshire County Council
Derek Ward director of public health Lincolnshire County Council

Professor Derek Ward, Lincolnshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, confirmed that the current seven-day rate of infection for school age children between November 26 and December 2 was around 161 per 100,000 population — up from 145 on Tuesday.

However, he said the rate was “significantly lower” than the overall rate for the county, which in Thursday’s figures was 267 (vs 155 England average).

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He told BBC Radio Lincolnshire that children tended to have “generally mild symptoms” and that evidence was emerging that they’re “less likely to pass it on”.

Professor Ward explained the county would continue to see cases and closures.

However, “there’s less disease in schools, so if we’re not going to close garden centres, why would we close schools? It makes no sense to me.

“The impact on children of closing schools in terms of their education is massive, but it’s also massive in terms of their social connection with their friends and their mental well being.

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“So, the government’s decision to keep schools open is a decision I absolutely agree with.

“If we do see a significant outbreak in a school, of course we will provide advice and support to that school.

“But we shouldn’t deprive the hundreds of thousands of children and young people in the county of education because we’ve got an outbreak in one school.”

As of Tuesday there were 16 schools in the county which had contacted Lincolnshire County Council to confirm positive COVID-19 cases.

University students are also leaving the city, and there are less than 30 active cases at the moment.