Wigan public health boss says nurseries should stay open

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There is currently a debate over whether or not early-years facilities should be closed.

Professor Kate Ardern, who also has a lead role for public health in Greater Manchester, said she did not think the facilities should be shut, saying this was not even done during the initial lockdown last spring.

Prof Ardern said: "The rate of new infections in very small children is actually very low and of course during the first national lockdown in spring nurseries and early-years settings remained open, very importantly, to look after the children of key workers and support some of the most vulnerable children in society.

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"It's very important that work, particularly linked to safeguarding and children who are potentially at risk, continues. It's key that they continue to remain open."

Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council director of public healthProf Kate Ardern, Wigan Council director of public health
Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council director of public health

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said the young children in nurseries are at very low risk from the novel coronavirus and are also less likely to spread it to adults.

But parents have increasingly been questioning why nurseries are remaining open when primary and secondary schools are only open for vulnerable youngsters and the children of critical workers.

Associations representing the industry have also described the worry staff in nurseries are feeling continuing to go to work and demanded the Government publishes the scientific evidence for its decision.

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Virologist Prof Calum Semple previously told BBC Breakfast that keeping nurseries open was a political decision rather than a scientific one.

Public Health England (PHE) data shows that one in 10 Covid-19 outbreaks in education since September have been at early-years sites.

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