If you look at figure 11 in the government’s latest coronavirus weekly surveillance report (1) which covers the sites for the spread of infectious respiratory disease going back to last autumn, you will notice several things.
1. Schools can be a very serious hub for disease transmission. Weeks 46 to 52 – the end of the autumn term – show schools as the main hub for transmitting last winter’s seasonal flu.
2. Schools were beginning to be a hub for the spread of Coronavirus at the end of March (week 12) until closing them for the overwhelming majority of pupils snuffed that out.
3. Now that more students are going back – even in relatively controlled conditions – schools are again becoming a hub for transmission. This is still quite small thankfully, but in week 23 (the week from June 1st – which was the first week that the government wanted students in Nursery, Reception and Years 1 and 6 to go back) there were 14 outbreaks in school settings. An outbreak is defined as two or more people getting the same illness which “appears to be linked to a particular setting”. Two points should be stressed. This is a real but small increase. It remains to be seen if this is sustained. But this is in the context of relatively few, even of the students the government had targeted for that week, actually going back. More went back in week 24 and yet more from this week (Week 25). The next report will indicate the impact of this.
4. The overall number of acute respiratory infections went UP for the first time since Week 15 in mid April, indicating that passing the peak is not the same as controlling the virus.