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Switzerland lets children under 10 to visit grandparents as they 'can't pass on coronavirus'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 29/04/2020 Ewan Somerville
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Children aged under ten will be allowed to hug and visit their grandparents again, under new social distancing guidance in Switzerland.

The country’s Federal Department of Public Health said youngsters pose “no risk” to elderly people because they do not have the “receptors” vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Dr Daniel Koch, the head of the office’s infectious diseases unit, said: "Children are very rarely infected and do not pass on the virus. That is why small children pose no risk to high-risk patients or grandparents."

Grandparents are still urged to keep their distance and the guidance only applies to under-10s who are fit and healthy. Mass gatherings of more than five people remain banned.

Switzerland has begun to reopen after its lockdown (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Switzerland has begun to reopen after its lockdown (AFP via Getty Images)

But scientists have poured cold water on the move, warning of no consensus in the scientific community.

Professor Russell Viner, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We don't think that it would be a good idea for children to hug their grandparents in the UK without more data.

Pictures: Coronavirus crisis around the world (Photos)

"We think that children probably transmit Covid-19 less than adults, but we need to be absolutely sure and we would need to have a lot more data on that, particularly because elderly grandparents are in the vulnerable group."

The UK’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty has urged all elderly people to self-isolate, adding it is “prudent” to avoid any potential risk with visitors.

© Getty

Switzerland, which has so far seen more than 29,000 cases and 1,699 deaths, has begun relaxing its lockdown this week with garden centres and hairdressers opened on Monday, and schools and non-essential shops to follow in two weeks' time.

Experts believe the new risk could be posed by parents of children making visits to elderly relatives.

It comes amid calls in Britain for schools to reopen by June, with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) understood to be split on the risk children face from Covid-19.

A study earlier this month showed that a nine-year-old British pupil who caught the virus on a skiing holiday in France did not transmit it to anyone despite brushing contact with more than 170 people.

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