July 2, 2021 11.05 am This story is over 12 months old

Daily testing will stop children missing out on school, say health bosses

Should close contacts be forced into isolation?

“The sooner we can move to daily testing in schools, the better to stop children missing out on education,” Lincolnshire’s health bosses have said.

It comes amid a national debate over whether close contacts of positive cases in schools should be forced into isolation.

In the last couple of weeks, at any one time, between 30-40 schools and universities in the county have been receiving support after at least one positive case, said Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Professor Derek Ward.

“We’re going to see cases in schools is the bottom line, because children have not been vaccinated. We see lots of infectious diseases in schools all the time, most obviously the common cold.

“If the disease profile stays as it is in children and young people – a very mild disease that isn’t going to have any long term impact – it’s a national decision about whether that’s a decision [vaccinating children] we want to take.

“As long as we have a good protection of the general population through the vaccine roll-out, we’ve got to really consider the impact on children and young people of having to isolate.”

He said those who tested positive, and their home family unit, should isolate, and he did not expect that to change for a long while.

However, Professor Ward added: “The sooner we can move to daily testing for close contacts, the better — because it stops those children missing out on their education.

“If they’ve got no symptoms and they’re doing a lateral flow test every morning before they come to school and it’s a negative, then I think being in school is more important.”

iNews on Thursday reported a new trend of children on TikTok sharing clips of tests being tricked by various liquids in order to get out of school, however, Professor Ward said there was not yet any evidence of that taking place in the county.

Lincolnshire’s coronavirus cases up to July 1.

He added it would be easy to disprove by a parent carrying out a second supervised test, or the required follow-up PCR test, showing a negative result.

“Children should be in school, full stop, both for them and for the family,” said Professor Ward.

“The thing that determines your health and wellbeing for your life is the job that you do — if you do a good job with a decent income, then you are far more likely to have a long and healthy life and a big determinant of whether you’re going to get a good job is your education.

“So it’s absolutely vital that we continue to provide high quality education to all the children in Lincolnshire.”

Elsewhere, Professor Ward said he did not think the county would reach the cases of the height of the second wave, despite numbers over the past few days being the highest since January.

He said young people, particularly those aged 20-24, were still the emphasis, because they haven’t been eligible long enough to receive their vaccination — adding this was also likely to be the reason Lincoln and Boston have higher infection rates than other districts with older populations who were eligible for their first and second doses earlier in the year.

However, he noted that the good news was that hospitalisations and deaths continued to be low, with one or two cases in our hospitals and just two deaths reported in the past week.