Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director of Public Health England and the medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, gave a series of media interviews this morning. Here are the main points.
Hopkins said the lockdown in England would last a “minimum” of four weeks. She said:
The minimum we’ll see a lockdown throughout this period is four weeks. The reason for that is that we are going to have a slowdown, hopefully, over the next two weeks, in the number of cases, but we really need to bring the caseload down much lower than we have right now in order to protect the NHS over the December/January period.
She said she could not say whether infections in schools was too high. Asked if the transmission risk in schools was high, she said:
We don’t know exactly.
We do know that the majority of children have infection that’s related to infection in their households, which is clearly the most likely place that children will get infected.
We know that over the summer families and people have been all back in work and going out and socialising, so there are many routes of infection and bringing it into the household …
We have also agreed that we want our children to be in education, that we think that the damage done from a year of children’s education lost is too high for us to accept as a society.
She said one reason why NHS Test and Trace was having difficulty reaching the contacts of people who have tested positive is because people don’t answer their phones. She explained:
Firstly, the teams make every effort to call individuals. We do need to get people’s contact details from the primary case.
Usually, about one in five individuals, there’s no contact details given. So we struggle to find that individual and then cases through the system.
People don’t answer their phones, people don’t want to get a contact from an unknown number.
And that’s part of the reason why there’s increasing local contact tracing, working with directors of public health and local councils, so that their local system can find some of these individuals that the national system cannot.