Scientists at UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined the possible implications of schools reopening in the UK coupled with broader reopening of society, such returning to workplaces and increased socialising within the community.
Analyst Michael Swadling from the Croydon Constitutionalists, has shared his views on the matter.
Sputnik: Can we expect the government to U-turn and close pubs, bars and restaurants on the back of this and news of a second wave?
Michael Swadling: I fear we will see the government start to lock down various places and amenities again. I feel the real reason for that though is it's the scaremongering. This is coming from, of course public health authorities; and universities; and people who are in the business of worrying about major public health issues will say that something could happen. Almost anything could happen.
But in reality, what are we seeing? We're seeing, thankfully, the death tolls fall down. We're seeing the hospitalizations fall down. We never saw the NHS overstretched. We've seen the world open up pubs open, restaurants open, more children going back to school towards the end of the last academic year and we haven't seen the number of deaths or hospitalizations rise. More people have got COVID - well you're testing more - of course you're going to find more cases if you test more.
What I really think we're seeing here, is an industry that's now sprung up around causing panic and planning for a future with COVID; and with this disease and other diseases and of course, the last thing they want is for us to get back to normal because that kind of ends their reasons for being.
Sputnik: How should the government be handling the virus going forwards e.g are localised lockdowns the right method of containment? What more could be done?
Michael Swadling: There is clearly still a risk, I mean look, we lost a lot more people this year based on a five-year average death numbers although at the moment, they are lower and have been for a number of weeks in England. Social distancing makes sense for people to be cautious, particularly through the next winter. We have a lot of people working from home, I suspect that will stay the same for a time to come but we can't just see this through the eyes of the pandemic.
The purpose of dealing with a pandemic or any illness is being able to really live with it. It's not to close yourself off from any risk in life, which is where the government seems to be at the moment. If we keep some sensible measures around distancing. We open up the shops more, we open up transport more. We get people back to work, we get the kids back to school, we actually get back to a normal and we manage the at-risk populations.
We absolutely isolate and protect the care homes, we absolutely look at risk groups, but we get the health of the whole nation back because one of the great worries during this period lockdown and every time they talk about another lockdown is people aren't going into hospital when they feel chest pains. People aren't going to hospital for cancer screening, people aren't going to hospitals for a whole range of issues and of course, as unemployment rise, we know that always comes with a debt count. It's not just about managing this one thing, what we need is a government actually governs and manages a whole range of things at once, not just looking at COVID but looking at the whole health and just getting this country back to normal whilst isolating the most at risk groups. Prioritise focus, not just a broad-brush approach.
Sputnik: In your eyes, has the government invested and prioritized test and trace enough?
Michael Swadling: The government and all governments have struggled with this. Test and trace is something that has become very apparent as being needed. Some of the Far East have done quite well with this is that they've had tests and trace systems, they've had that as a result of having SARS and other coronavirus outbreaks, and they know some more specific details of that. So, yes, the government's got to play some catch up.
I'm not really sure how well that can work in every circumstance. Rather than us looking for the silver bullet, we've got to look at how we live our lives with this. It may be a test and trace system for certain mega events of outbreak. Absolutely. But I don't see that working for most people going about their normal daily life. It comes back to isolate those that have been, focus on the people where there's a concern and just let the rest of us get back with some sensible measures around the corner. Focus on that and just get back to normal. Get us back, living with this but living and enjoying our lives, getting the economy going; rather than having to fit in fear of something that actually isn't going to affect most of us and is destroying our economy to boot.