A guide on what we know so far

An unused classroom at Karl Marx Secondary School in Saxony-Anhalt, Gardelegen, Germany. Due to the still relatively tense situation of Covid-19, stricter rules apply not only in Saxony-Anhalt but also throughout the country. The school is expected to continue emergency operations until at least the end of January.

Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert | Image Alliance | Getty Images

London — Science on the link between children and the epidemic of the coronavirus is still evolving, but there seems to be increasing evidence that school children play an important role in community infections.

With the resurgence of Covid-19, most of Europe has adopted the strictest levels of public health measures, and many countries in the region have broader plans to control infection rates and reduce burdens. The school was closed as part. About medical facilities that have already been emphasized.

The World Health Organization is calling on policy makers to be guided by a risk-based approach to maximizing the interests of the population, and the issue of polarization as to whether schools should remain open is clear. Is far from it.

School closures have a clear negative impact on children’s health, the United Nations Health Agency warns, citing children’s education and development, family income and a recession in the overall economy.

At this time, the exact timing of when the school needs to remain closed, at least partially, and when the school may be fully reopened are not yet known.

Does closing a school slow the spread?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the Swiss decision to close the school in March last year was determined to be responsible for the 21.6% reduction in mobility.

The study, published Sunday and not yet peer-reviewed, found that school closures ranked third in nationwide reduced mobility and thus reduced Covid infections.

Banning gatherings of five or more is the most effective policy tool, reducing mobility by about a quarter, and closing restaurants, bars, and non-essential stores, people increase their total travel by 22.3%. Reduced.

Teachers in line waiting for the Covid test to take place. A group of teachers who start working in the youngest first to third grades of elementary school are taking the Covid-19 test. (Photo courtesy of Alex Bona / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Alex Bona | SOPA Images | Light Rocket via Getty Images

The study predicted a 1% reduction in human mobility to reduce daily reported Covid cases by 0.88% to 1.11%, highlighting the effectiveness of school closures to slow the spread of the virus. It was. We analyzed communication data consisting of 1.5 billion trips made by Swiss residents between February 10th and April 26th last year.

Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, emailed CNBC: “Studies of interventions in hundreds of countries around the world have linked school closures to a decrease in R and increased school openings. It has been consistently shown to be relevant. ” ..

The so-called “R” rate, or regeneration rate, refers to the average number of secondary Covid infections caused by a single infected person.

What steps can I take to mitigate the risk?

In the UK, schools for the majority of children in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to remain closed for the next few weeks. Also, according to QMU’s Gurdasani, data in the UK have previously shown that Covid cases decline when schools are closed, such as during mid-semester vacations.

Referencing data from the Office for National Statistics, she found that children aged 2 to 11 were twice as likely to have zero cases at home as adults, but children aged 12 to 16 years. Added that he was found to be infected seven times more likely. Infection of family homes.

Recognizing the impact of schools on community transmission is important to minimize the risk of school-to-community transmission as well as within the school.

Deepti Gurdasani

Clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London

ONS surveyed household data in the UK from April to November last year. They also found that once infected, children aged 2 to 16 were twice as likely to be infected with household contacts as adults aged 17 and over.

“In light of this, it is important for the government to introduce mitigation measures in schools: reducing the size of classes and bubbles, improving ventilation and air filtration through surveillance, using masks, social distance and hygiene. Includes the use of large free space to mitigate risk, “Gurdasani said. Said.

“Awareness of the impact of school transmission to the community is important to minimize the risk of school-to-community transmission, not just within the school.”

What are the risks to young people?

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) states that when epidemiological studies are conducted, school Covid infections account for a minority of all Covid cases in a particular country.

EU agencies emphasize that most children do not develop symptoms when infected with Covid, and when they do, they tend to get very mild illness.

Palestinian students wearing face masks line up at school after interrupted face-to-face education for elementary and junior high school students in the Gaza Strip within the scope of a new type of coronavirus (Covid-19) protection I will enroll. January 13, 2021.

Ali Jadara | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

That does not mean that cases of serious illness have not been reported for children. According to WHO, children under the age of 18 account for about 8.5% of reported cases. And, as in adults, existing medical conditions have been suggested as factors in the outcome of serious illness and admission to the intensive care unit.

What does the ECDC recommend?

“If appropriate measures are taken in schools to reduce the chances of the virus spreading, school settings are unlikely to play a substantial role in infection,” the ECDC said on its website. “In addition, school is an integral part of society and the lives of children.”

The agency added that “widespread school closures should be seen as a last resort and should only be considered after other measures have been taken within the community to curb the spread of the disease.” ..

The return of school children in mid-August last year did not appear to have been the driving force behind the surge in incidents observed in many EU member states in the fall, according to an ECDC review at the end of last month.

Further research is underway to understand the risk of infection in children and to assess infection in age groups.

A guide on what we know so far

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