India Covid variant spreading in England’s schools

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The Delta Covid-19 variant has begun spreading in schools and colleges throughout England, it has been revealed, after Public Health England published new data, demanded by teachers and staff unions, on outbreaks of the variant.

The new data, covering 26 April to 30 May, showed the number of Delta variant infections in schools or other educational settings rising rapidly throughout the period, with a total of 140 incidents.

Prof Christina Pagel, director of University College London’s clinical operational research unit, said the figures were evidence that schools were now “a major source” of transmission, after the government last month dropped its requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks in classrooms.

Of the Delta variant, the number of confirmed outbreaks or clusters found in primary and secondary schools has risen from just three at the end of April to 39 in the final week of May. The combined number of outbreaks and clusters of all variants has also grown at pace, from 24 at the end of April to 93 by the end of last month.

Last week the leaders of eight trade unions representing school staff, including the four main teaching unions, wrote to the Department for Education asking that the data on variants in schools and colleges be released.

Photo: The doors of a high school in London, Britain. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

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