Covid cases are likely to rise as a result of millions of children heading back to school, Downing Street has admitted for the first time.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said it was “fair to say” there could be an increase as children head back into the classroom.
Asked if it was inevitable that the number of cases in schools would rise, he replied: “I’m not a modeller or an epidemiological expert but I think it’s fair to say that the consensus is that there may be an increase due to the return of schools.
“We’ve seen cases rise in Scotland for example so we will need to monitor that carefully.”
It comes as children up and down the country return to school this week amid concerns it will lead to a spike in coronavirus.
Cases are more than 30 times higher among children compared with last year, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile, the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation [JCVI] last week refused to give full approval for the vaccine for use on 12 to 15 year olds.
They concluded the health benefits for a child only “slightly outweigh” the potential harm that might be done by adverse reactions to the vaccine.
However, it means teens are heading back to school without the added protection from the virus.
The UK’s chief medical officers are expected to decided later this week whether or not to overrule the expert JCVI advice.
Tory MP and former minister Robert Halfon said if the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty goes against the JCVI advice, it is “crucial” parents are given consent.
He told TimesRadio: “If they are going to change the JCVI decision, which recommended not to [give vaccines to 12 to 15 year olds]. If the chief medical officer is going to do that, he’s got to be very clear as to why - and he needs to send an open letter to parents to explain the justification for that decision.”
Halfon, who chairs the Commons education select committee, said there had been “different messages” from ministers over the issue of consent.
“The parents must give consent, but I need to give the proviso of course I’m pro-vaccines. I’ve had vaccines myself, but it’s got you’ve got to make sure you have trust in the system,” he said.