Government mixed messages over possible extra ‘firebreak’ holiday for schools

Reports emerged the morning that the government was considering a range of options as a “firebreak” to prevent an October coronavirus surge.

One of the measures under consideration, according to a source at the The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), was a super-sized half term holiday, keeping kids at home for an extra week to prevent the spread of the disease.

However, The Department for Education denied the claims on Twitter, saying “It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half term”.

Despite the Department’s response, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi conceded on BBC News this morning that “firebreak” restrictions may have to be implemented in October if the pressure on the NHS from the latest Covid-19 surge remain high.

A SAGE insider said: “While deaths are unlikely to hit the levels as seen last autumn because the vaccines are doing their job, it is the admissions that will push the NHS to the brink of collapse if they do not fall soon."

The Department of Health's most recent update showed there were 41,192 confirmed new coronavirus cases, compared to just 26,476 the week before.

However deaths from the disease continue to decline, with experts crediting the vaccine rollout for the decline in severe cases..

A SAGE source told The Sun: "It would be sensible to have contingency plans, and if a lockdown is required, to time it so that it has minimal economic and societal impact.

"We are going to be at a peak, albeit an extended peak, quite soon, so it's not really the same situation as last year, when failure to reduce prevalence would have resulted in collapse of NHS and people dying in car parks.

"Hospitals might be overflowing before deaths reach the same level. Acting early will prevent this level."

The continuing Covid-19 pandemic, with new vaccine-resistant strains coming to the fore, will heap extra pressure on an NHS that has historically struggled during the winter flu season.

The Delta Covid variant is 5.7 times less vulnerable to the current generation of vaccines, according to a new paper published yesterday in the medical journal Nature Research.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that the impact of lacklustre Zoom lessons could leave the current generation of school kids at a lifelong disadvantage.

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