Re-opening of schools: a measured risk?

Réouverture des écoles: un risque mesuré?

Paris | In the coming weeks, with the reopening of schools will mark the end of the containment in several european countries. While the epidemic of Covid-19 seems to be still far from a recession general, the risk is it weighed?

The school will re-open gradually, from the 11th of may in France and in Switzerland, may 4, in Germany, from the 27th of April in Norway. Now in Denmark.

What are the risks for children and teachers? What are the dangers of spread of the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 within schools? The resumption of classes likely to revive the epidemic before the summer period?

What are the risks for children?

When they are announced, and the deaths of children by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 strike the opinion. But these cases remain extremely rare.

In France, one regrets to this day the two deaths of minors related to the Covid-19: a teenager of 16 years old and a child under 10 years of age.

The number of severe cases recorded among children less than 15 years represents only 0.6 % of the total in France between 16 march and 12 April, according to the public Health agency of France.

“Why do the children have mild symptoms with little hospitalization? I confess that today I don’t have a response,” said AFP to epidemiologist Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of global public health at the University of Geneva.

Several assumptions, however, are advanced, revolving around the immune response of children.

The risk of young people falling seriously ill, attending to new classrooms and during recess, seems so low.

What are the risks of release?

Another question concerns the capacity of children, while not or a little sick to transmit the virus to their family or teachers.

The data on this subject are less clear, in particular because it is difficult to study the power transmitter of topics that have few or no symptoms.

“The amount of virus in the child is probably not so high that it, lower than in the adult,” noted Wednesday, the Pr Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the scientific Council Covid-19 that illuminates the French government on the epidemic.

“Lack of data” on the capacity of transmission of the virus between children and children to their families, ” he added during a parliamentary hearing.

“Contrary to what we know with influenza, where children are the main transmitters, it appears that with the coronavirus they excrete less virus,” according to the Pr Odile Launay, infectious disease specialist at the hospital Cochin in Paris.

Keep the schools closed, leaving the adults to return to work would be a non-sense in terms of family organization and of public health, stresses the Pr Flahault.

“The risk is that the children are cared for by their grandparents, and we do not want the grandparents to be in contact with their grandchildren,” emphasizes the public health specialist.

Screening is the most important to date on the scale of a country, in Iceland, tends to confirm that children play a minor role in transmission. In one of the campaigns sampling conducted on the island, no child under the age of 10 years had tested positive.

The resumption of classes may be accompanied by measures of “social distancing” and the wearing of masks for the teachers and/or students, or even “right of withdrawal” for those who feel most at risk, writes professor Flahault.

At the same time, the return to school will have beneficial effects “in nutrition, and in terms of access to education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds”, he argues.

Risk of recovery before the summer?

If it is true that the children are weak transmitters of this virus, are less playgrounds that the outputs of schools that are to be feared, says the paediatrician and infectious diseases physician Robert Cohen.

“The arrivals and the outputs of schools are moments of encounters between adults. It may be that plays a role in the epidemic far more than the children themselves”, pointed out-it Wednesday on France Info.

“We need to know what we want. If we don’t re-open the schools, we can’t let the people go back to work. Déconfiner does not mean that we will have zero cases during the summer. It will allow the social and economic life to resume some of its rights and hope to control the situation so that the hospitals may not be waterlogged,” said professor Flahault.

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