Public health officials in Switzerland have said that it is now safe for children under the age of ten to hug their grandparents.
The relaxation of restrictions in the country comes after Swiss scientists concluded that grandparents are not at risk of catching Covid-19 from their young grandchildren as they do not have the ‘receptors’ targeted by the virus.
‘Children are very rarely infected and do not pass on the virus,’ said Dr Daniel Koch, head of Switzerland’s infectious diseases unit at the Federal Office of Public Health. ‘That is why small children pose no risk to high-risk patients or grandparents.’
The new advice in Switzerland is only applicable to children who are showing no signs of the illness and are under the age of ten, and grandparents are still being advised to practice social distancing with their older grandchildren.
The elderly have also been advised not to take care of children for a prolonged period of time, or risk any other form of prolonged exposure.
Pictured: A mother with her young daughter meet her grandparents for a drink across the Swiss-French border in Sezegnin, closed by a concrete block, near Geneva on April 16
Earlier in April, a study in France found that a British boy who had unknowingly contracted the disease on a skiing holiday and later come into contact with 172 people before being quarantined did not pass it on to anyone else.
He and 10 others were struck down with the disease while staying in the same ski chalet in the French Alps as Steve Walsh, one of the first Britons known to have the virus.
The child went to three different ski schools in eastern France and unknowingly infected, and mingled with other people.
All of those were placed in quarantine when the child tested positive, but only one other child contracted COVID-19. Neither of his siblings were struck down.
Doctors suggested the boy was not the spreader of the virus to the one other case because he came into contact with so many people.
Researchers who studied the child’s case said it suggests children are not a primary concern when considering the viruses’ main routes of transmission, and the case led to French viral disease experts to suggest that ‘children might not be an important source of transmissions of this novel virus.’
In the UK, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph, some member’s of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) believe that children do not pass on the virus, which has resulted in calls for schools to reopen in June.
However, following the news that the Swiss would be relaxing restrictions and allowing grandchildren under the age of ten to come into close contact with their grandparents, British experts questioned the decision.
Pictured: A flower market outside of Switzerland’s houses of parliament. Swizz health officials have said grandparents can now hug their grandchildren again if they are under ten years old
Citing a lack of scientific evidence to corroborate the assertion that children under a certain age cannot spread the disease to others, British experts warned that more data would be required before such a decision could be made in the U.K.
President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Russell Viner, said that his organisation advised against children and grandparents hugging in the UK for the time being.
‘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,’ he said.
Current advice in the UK states that regardless of their health, anyone over the age of 70 should strictly follow the social distancing measures that are in place in the country.
Yesterday, Matt Hancock announced coronavirus testing eligibility is being extended to include all over-65s and workers who cannot work from home – but only if they have symptoms.
All asymptomatic staff and patients at hospitals and care homes will also now be able to get checked.
The Health Secretary said opening up the testing regime to more people has been made possible by a dramatic increase in capacity.
The UK now has the ability to test more than 73,000 people every day with the government claiming it is ‘on track’ to hit Mr Hancock’s target of getting to 100,000 daily checks by the end of the month.
The offer of tests for symptomatic over-65s and to workers who have to leave the house to do their job will also apply to people living in those households.
The latest statistics showed just 37,024 tests were carried out in the UK in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, illustrating just how far ministers need to go to hit the 100,000 goal by close of play on Thursday.
Switzerland is one of many European countries that are beginning to relax coronavirus lockdown measures, and is following its neighbours Germany and Austria by allowing a selection of shops including DIY and garden centres to re-open first.
People queue up outside a DIY store in Schlieren in Switzerland yesterday, many of them not wearing masks which Swiss authorities have not made compulsory
Doctors’ surgeries, dentists, creches, hairdressers and massage and beauty salons were told they could open yesterday if they had taken sufficient health precautions.
Food shops that sell other goods are allowed to re-open the whole store, while mourners outside the immediate family are allowed to attend funerals.
Hospitals are also allowed to perform their whole range of procedures including non-urgent operations from today.
If the initial re-opening does not lead to a new spike in coronavirus cases, Swiss authorities plan to open other shops and schools from May 11.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, Switzerland has seen 29,264 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 1,699 deaths.
In contrast, the UK has seen 161,145 cases with 21,678 – overtaking Germany as the country with fifth highest number of cases in the world, behind France, Italy, Spain and the U.S.
Courtesy DAILY MAIL