Disease experts have warned Government ministers that schools and nurseries should remain shut at the end of the summer holidays, in order to control the swine flu pandemic.
Researchers argued that a shutdown would reduce the spread of infection and cut the number of swine flu deaths, while allowing more time to develop a vaccine.
However, closing nurseries and schools would seriously affect working mums and dads, making it difficult for many people to make it into work. It’s thought that as many as 30% of NHS staff would have to take time off – just when they are needed most.
This drastic expert advice, which appeared in medical journal The Lancet, looked at the impact of school closures during flu epidemics in other countries as far back as 1918 – one of the biggest flu epidemics.
More than 130 schools closed after cases of swine flu were reported earlier this year, but then reopened shortly after, once the disease became more widespread.
The schools department is currently planning to stick with its decision to reopen schools and nurseries in the autumn. “We will be monitoring the situation closely over the school holidays,” said schools secretary Ed Balls, “and will review the evidence in late August.”
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