But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed that kids could be stuck at home until after the summer holidays, with secondary schools reopening in September “at the earliest”.
Boris Johnson said yesterday that his “ambition” is to get all schoolchildren back into classrooms as soon as possible.
A government insider has hinted if schools don’t open by September the start of the new term could be delayed until next year to avoid the winter flu season
They told The Spectator : “If Sage are this cautious going into summer, then they are not going to want to play fast and loose with the R number heading into winter.”
Schools up and down the UK may not fully reopen until next year as scientists are keen to avoid placing too much pressure on the NHS this winter, No.10 has admitted.
And one government insider hinted if schools could not be opened by September then the start of the new term could be after Christmas.
He told the daily briefing: “The R is below one, but perhaps only just below one. The epidemic is shrinking, but not fast.”
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the R rate across the country was still below one, but warned that the UK must demonstrate ‘caution’ in how lockdown is eased.
The all-important R number is a measure of how fast the virus is spreading.
“Numbers are coming down,” he said, “but are not yet very low. The vast majority of the population remains susceptible to the infection.
Today the government admitted that the threat level for Covid-19 had not gone down from four to three as they had hoped.
Last winter 1,692 people in England died from seasonal flu. Health chiefs are concerned that a potential second wave of coronavirus could coincide with seasonal flu to create a dangerously high load for the NHS.
“That urges caution, it urges going slowly with changes and it urges measuring very carefully to see the impact and being prepared to reverse things where measures have been taken that have an impact on this, and importantly means looking for outbreaks locally and dealing with those fast.”
Professor Chris Whitty said: “We have to accept that we could find ourselves in one of three situations.
“One is where we have a situation where (coronavirus) starts to escape control.”
He explained: “The aim is that we (lift lockdown) very slowly to prevent that from happening but that’s the risk.
“The second situation is (the virus combining with the winter flu season) and we all think there is a a reasonable chance that in the winter this virus will have some advantages it doesn’t have the rest of the year.