Families should self-isolate for 10 days before Christmas to protect elderly relatives, scientists warn

Ellen Manning
·2-min read
Family With Grandparents Opening Christmas Gifts
Scientists have warned of the dangers of children mixing with elderly relatives over Christmas. (Stock image: Getty)

Families have been warned that they should isolate for at least ten days before spending time with elderly relatives over Christmas.

The government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King gave the warning following the decision to lift coronavirus restrictions for five days over the Christmas period.

His warning comes amid concerns over children spending time with vulnerable elderly relatives over the festive season.

He told the Mirror: “Many children will ­unwittingly have the disease.

“People will need to be exceptionally careful unless they isolate for between 10-12 days beforehand. There will be a price to pay for Christmas.”

Watch: 'Don't hug your gran at Christmas', says Professor Chris Whitty

Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from his own MPs after the new tougher tier system — set to start when lockdown ends on December 2 — caused widespread anger, with 99% of the country under the toughest COVID restrictions.

The announcement came after the government said it is allowing people families to reunite over the festive period, meeting in “Christmas bubbles” that will see three households allowed to mix from December 23 to 27.

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Social distancing will be relaxed within the bubbles, giving people the chance to hug friends and family for the first time in months.

But scientists have warned that it will come with a price and others had given similar advice that it will be wise to isolate before spending time with elderly loved ones.

The Mirror reported that Independent Sage scientists had echoed Sir David’s call, with University College London’s Prof Susan Michie saying: “There is a big risk if younger people have not isolated before contact with older relatives.

“If parents know there are going to be vulnerable people around they should want children to self-isolate first.”

Last week government figures showed that almost three in four secondary schools in England had at least one student self-isolating at home due to potential COVID-19 contact.

The figures showed more than a fifth (22%) of pupils were absent from school on November 19 compared with 17% the previous week.

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work