New research carried out by Vincent Marmara shows that the opening of schools results in a reduction in the number of cases of Covid-19, with the statistician saying that teachers and school employees are essential when it comes to controlling the virus.
In his exclusive weekly video blog with The Malta Independent, Marmara revealed how after schools opened for their first term last September, the number of Covid-19 cases decreased for seven consecutive weeks.
This research was presented to unions and schools officials in the past week as a solution was reached for the impasse on the return of teachers to their classrooms for the second semester of the scholastic year.
He said that this means that the impact of schools being open actually helps control and organise society more, with more mitigation measures in place for when people do mingle, and with the infection risk in the community being reduced as a result.
With schools closed over the past two weeks, Marmara observed, social activities had increased and hence so have the number of Covid-19 cases, as has been seen in the past week.
Indeed, Marmara showed how 1,058 cases of Covid-19 were found in the past week – the highest ever tally, surpassing the 976 cases reported – incidentally – the week before schools reopened after the end of summer.
He referred to a national survey which he carried out some weeks ago which found that while 25% of the public surveyed said that they would not be attending any social activities over Christmas, 15% said that they would, hence meeting people outside of their household.
He said that we are now seeing the effect of the actions of those 15% in the increase in cases.
5.5% of all the swab tests carried out returned positive results for Covid-19 – also the highest since the pandemic began. 11 deaths – significantly less than previous weeks – were registered in the past week, but the number of recoveries was only 48% of the number of new cases – resulting in a significant increase in active cases.
All this means that the reproduction factor of the virus stands at 1.35, Marmara said.
He noted that this was, up to a point, expected because of the increase in social activities – which he described as the principal factor behind the increase – in this period, adding that whenever there was an expected increase in social activities over the past 10 months, the cases had increased.
Turning to the situation abroad, Marmara showed how the number of cases had increased significantly in the United Kingdom and in Spain, but had remained stable – although still high – in Italy, Germany and France.
He said that the coming weeks will provide some hope as thousands receive the Covid-19 vaccination, but appealed for the public to continue to follow all mitigation measures till then in order to restrict the spread of the virus in the community.