Researchers say second wave 'will be twice as big' if testing doesn't improve by next month

Researches have said that reopening schools in September without a ‘comprehensive test, trace and isolate strategy’ could lead to a second wave of coronavirus that is twice as big as the first.

A new modelling study by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) simulated how Covid-19 may spread when schools reopen next month. Furthermore it also took into account parents returning to work.

With increased levels of testing… and effective contact tracing and isolation, an epidemic rebound might be prevented, according to the authors. However if things don’t go to plan, a second wave could come round by December peaking 2.3 times higher than the first wave.

Chris Bonell, one of the authors and professor of public health sociology at LSHTM, said the current testing system has ‘about 50% coverage’.

He added: ‘Our findings suggests that it might be possible [to avoid] a secondary epidemic wave in the UK, if enough people with symptomatic infection can be diagnosed and their contacts traced and effectively isolated.

‘Reopening schools fully in September, alongside reopening workplaces in society, without an effective test, trace, isolating (TTI) strategy could result in a second wave of infections between two and 2.3 times the size of the original wave.

‘Currently, TTI is not achieving the levels that we modelled. Looking at the NHS reports from the TTI system, it looks like it’s about 50% coverage.’

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