Higher risk of car crash or flu than kids dying from coronavirus, deputy medical officer warns

CHILDREN are at a higher risk of dying in a car crash or having the flu, the deputy chief medial officer has warned.

Dr Jenny Harries has said she can "understand entirely" why parents are nervous to send their kids back to school – but that the long term damage of keeping them out of classrooms is too great.

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Dr Harries told Sky News: "We are not saying (the school) environment is completely risk free.

"Every time a parent sends their child off to school pre-Covid they may have been involved in a road traffic accident.

"There are all sorts of things and in fact that risk or the risk of the seasonal flu is currently higher than the risk of Covid."

She added that if a child does get coronavirus the likelihood of them dying from it is "exceptionally rare".

"We know that children rarely get serious disease or gets hospitalised.

"When children do get the infection it is usually very mild."

Dr Harries said all of the chief medical officers of the four nations have given clear advice that the risk to children long term of staying out of school is much greater than the short term risk of catching coronavirus.

She said: "the long term harm to children not attending schools significantly, we think, outweighs the potential risk."

Fourteen chief or deputy medical officers from all four home nations — including England’s Chris Whitty — made an unprecedented public statement over the weekend.

They said evidence shows there is an “exceptionally small risk” of child deaths from Covid-19.

The fatality rate for those aged five to 14 is lower than most seasonal flu infections.

Professor Whitty said: “The balance of risk is very strongly in favour of children going to school because many more are likely to be harmed by not going than harmed by going even during this pandemic.”

He said there is a “reasonable chance” of vaccines to help beat coronavirus arriving before winter next year.

The move is a relief to the PM who visits a school this week as he ramps up his “back to class” campaign.

Boris Johnson also issued a plea to parents to get ready to send their kids back to school next week, saying their children's "life chances" are under threat by staying home.

The PM said: "As the Chief Medical Officer has said, the risk of contracting Covid-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and well-being to be away from school any longer. 

“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends.

"Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”



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