Friday, 18 Sep 2020

Calls for lockdown easing: Get young people back to work and let old ‘shield themselves’

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The trend has offered hope that future strict lockdowns may be avoided for the younger generation. Experts suggest the Government encourage a policy of protecting older people while allowing others to continue to return to work. There has been a steady rise in coronavirus infections but no significant rise in hospitalisations.

However, new data suggests the peak age range for new coronavirus cases in people under 40.

A specialist for the Government’s SPI-M modelling group Mark Woolhouse said that “the epidemic is starting to divide” by age.

Mr Woolhouse added: “There are hints from the behavioural data that younger adults are embracing the exit from lockdown more enthusiastically than older people.”

The academic from the University of Edinburgh suggested that older adults were “shielding themselves”.

It comes as ministers have shared concerns that if young people get infected the virus will inevitably spread to the older generation.

However, Professor Woolhouse argued: “People have worked out who’s at risk and they’re acting on it.

“Government and local authorities may not need to be that authoritarian about this.

“Maybe what people need is advice.

“It’s possible that would be enough to damp down many local outbreaks.”

He added that “we don’t have to panic now and maybe we can be more measured in our response”.

The Office for National Statistics, ONS, reported yesterday that infections were falling in older people, but rising in younger people.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the ONS data was a sign that the Government’s measures were allowing, “the country to safely return to normal”.

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Recent data shows that two thirds of confirmed infections from the virus have been in the under-40s.

The new pattern of infections suggests that younger people could be allowed to return to work and be not at risk of becoming badly affected by coronavirus.

Now Government advisors are openly suggesting a Swedish-style strategy of letting younger people get back to work but encouraging older people to shield from the virus.

This approach may help the nation get through the winter and the possibility of a severe second wave of coronavirus.

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