Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Times Radio: “A bad flu epidemic combined with coronavirus could put enormous pressure on the NHS. The relatively good news, I think, is that in the southern hemisphere their winter flu wasn’t too bad.
“It may be that social distancing reduced the flu as well.
“But were we to abandon social distancing, it is absolutely clear we would get a second major wave of the infection.”
The warning comes as the UK recorded 1,041 coronavirus cases on Sunday taking the total number of confirmed infections to 325,642.
Britain’s death toll increased by 6 to 41,429.
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11.40am update: PM says risk of children getting coronavirus as they return to school is ‘very, very, very small’
In a video posted on Twitter, Boris Johnson said: “It’s absolutely vital that pupils get back into school in September.
“It’s vital for their education, it’s vital for their welfare, it’s vital for their physical, and indeed, their mental wellbeing.
“So let’s make sure that all kids, all pupils, get back to school at the beginning of September.”
11am update: Education Select Committee chair insists ‘everything possible’ must be done to get children back to school
The Tory chair of the Education Select Committee Robert Halfon has said “we have to do everything possible to get our children back to school next week”.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “In my view this is possibly the most important issue facing our nation.
“We’ve had millions of children not learning during the lockdown, millions of children with very little contact with teachers, we’ve got safeguarding issues, a potential epidemic of education poverty, we’ve got a digital divide with hundreds of thousands of kids not having computers at home, so whatever happens we do need to get our children back to school.
“Of course we’re in a national pandemic and people are concerned, but I’ve been campaigning for a long time for children to go back to school and I really welcome what the chief medical officers have said that actually the risks (of) staying at home, the risks to mental health, safeguarding, their educational life chances are much greater than the minimal risks, thank goodness, of children getting the coronavirus, so we have to do everything possible to get our children back to school next week.”
10.25am update: Minister ‘confident’ all schools will reopen in September
Minister for school standards Nick Gibb has said he is “confident” that all schools will be open next month.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Fines are something that headteachers are very reluctant to use, they use them only as a last resort.
“It’s about reassuring parents that may have a particular concern about the measures that the school has taken to make sure that their young people are safe, and they are going to extraordinary lengths to make sure that children are safe.
“Ninety percent of parents have said that it’s likely or very likely that their children will attend school.
“I’m confident that all schools will be open at the beginning of September.”
9.50am update: Russia reports 4,744 new coronavirus cases
Russia has confirmed 4,744 new coronavirus cases, pushing its infection tally to 961,493.
The death toll has increased by 65 to 16,448.
9.05am update: Shadow Education Secretary accuses Government of being ‘asleep at the wheel’ over schools reopening
Labour’s Kate Green told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “The union leaders that I’m talking to all the time are as desperate as anyone to see children back in class.
“They’re education professionals, they’re teachers, they really care as much as anybody about children’s futures and it isn’t the responsibility of the trade unions ultimately to get children into the class room.
“The Government has to make the conditions suitable and safe for schools, for staff, for students and it’s been asleep at the wheel, it’s been not paying the attention that schools need to the details of how they are going to reopen, nor has it been out sending a strong and clear message to parents.”
“I do agree that it’s really important that we get everyone back into school next week and… really welcome the clarity of the chief medial officers’ advice, which I hope will bring reassurance to parents.”
8.30am update: Suggested roadmap to clubs reopening includes face masks
Compulsory face masks and restricting numbers on the dancefloor are among the suggested safety measures which should lead to clubs being allowed to reopen, it is claimed.
The Night Time Industries Association warned the sector has reached a “critical point”, with no clear reopening strategy in place.
A new report, supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, looks at how clubs could reopen safely.
Measures include temperature checks for guests, mandatory face masks and restricting capacity.