Work from home is best, says Scientific Advisory Group
London – Advising people to work from home is likely to have the most impact on stopping novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading this winter, scientists advising the government say.
Stricter virus restrictions should now be prepared for “rapid deployment”, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said.
It said “presenteeism” – or pressure to be in work – could become an increasing cause of infections in workplaces.
Asked about working from home, the PM said all measures were under review.
Boris Johnson added: “We do whatever we have to do to protect the public but the numbers that we’re seeing at the moment are fully in line with what we expected in the autumn and winter plan.”
Ministers in England are resisting calls to switch to their winter Plan B that would see measures like compulsory face coverings in certain places.
Covid hospital admissions and deaths across the UK are rising slowly, and the UK has recorded over 40,000 new daily Covid cases for the past ten days.
On Friday, a further 49 298 coronavirus cases were reported in the UK, alongside 180 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Any advice to work from home would only apply to those who are able to do their job away from the workplace.
In April 2020, at the height of the first pandemic lockdown, less than half of people in employment, some 46.6%, did some work at home, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In minutes of a meeting of scientific advisers on 14 October, published on Friday, they warn that acting earlier rather than later could reduce the need for stricter measures over a longer timeframe “to avoid an unacceptable level of hospitalisations”.
They added that any measures introduced must be clearly communicated.
The advisers, led by Sir Patrick Vallance, say models forecasting the coming winter suggest Covid hospital admissions are “increasingly unlikely” to rise above the levels of January 2021 peak.
But they say they are unsure of the impact of “waning immunity and people’s behaviour”. (BBC)