The scientist whose modeling led to the original lockdown in the UK said it would be a political judgment whether restrictions on mixing families should be eased over Christmas.
Professor Neil Ferguson said policymakers must weigh the benefits of allowing family members from different families to mix in the home against the potential risks, which he said are “potentially limited.”
“It has some risk of transmission and there will be consequences for that.” He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program Some people will die from infection that day.
But if it’s only a day or two, the effect is likely to be limited. So this is really a political judgment about cost versus benefits.
His comments came as Welsh Minister of Health, Vaughan Githing, said that Wales’ 17-day fire lockdown would give people a “best chance” to see each other over Christmas by reducing the R value – the number of people each coronavirus case infects – Under one.
On Friday, Professor John Edmonds, a member of the Emergencies Scientific Advisory Group (Sage), said that the idea of “we can continue to work as we are” and have Christmas naturally “is just wishful thinking in the extreme”.
Meanwhile, Downing Street said the government’s ambition is to “ensure people celebrate Christmas as a family this year” and it has introduced a system of tiered restriction across England.
Ferguson said that across the UK, there were fewer than 8,000 people infected with the Coronavirus in hospitals, about a third of the total number at the peak of infections in March.
He said the NHS may be unable to cope if cases of coronavirus continue to rise at the current rate, with infections rising in every age group for adults except for people between the ages of 18 and 21.
He said: “There are very few signs of a slowdown, for example in the North East of England, but we don’t see the kind of slowdown we really need to overcome this.”
If the growth rate continues as it is, then this means that within a month we will exceed this peak level in March and this is most likely unsustainable. We are at a critical time now. “
Modeling by Imperial College in March predicted that in the worst-case scenario without implementing large-scale measures to reduce transmission, 510,000 people could die in the UK.
The yet-to-be published study led the government to take a tolerant stance, but the scientific basis for the shutdown has since come under increasing scrutiny amid mounting collateral damage – from increasing mental health problems to canceled processes, massive interruptions to children’s development and growing poverty.
Official figures showed that there were 2,703 excess deaths across England and Wales in September, with a total of 39,827 deaths, according to official figures, but the Corona virus was not among the top ten causes of death. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the leading cause of death.
Coronavirus was the leading cause of death in 11.5% of all deaths in England and 9% of deaths in Wales from January to September this year. The average age of those who died was 82.
Ferguson added that if restrictions on family mixing fail to stop the spread of Coronavirus infection, the government may be forced to close schools for older students.
“This [banning households mixing] It should have made a big impact, but so far we haven’t been able to see it definitively, “he told the Today program.
“If we go beyond that, there is a limit to what we can do in terms of contact limitation, except to start targeting, for example, older years in sixth grade schools and colleges, where we know that older teens are capable of moving adults.
Of course, no one wants to start moving to virtual education and closing schools, even partially. The challenge might be that we are unable to control the transmission in another way. “