Children are 'at a greater risk from MEASLES than Covid'

Children are at a greater risk from MEASLES than Covid says Britain’s most senior paediatrician

  • Professor Russell Viner urged parents to send their children back to school  
  • Said he’s ‘far more worried about the risk to children of measles than of Covid’
  • Children will be heading back to school for the first time in almost six months 
  • Boris Johnson is set to say it should act as a springboard for ‘more normality’ 

Britain’s most senior paediatrician claims children are at a greater risk of contracting measles than coronavirus.

President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Professor Russell Viner advised parents to send their children back to school, claiming he’s ‘far more worried about the risk to children of measles than of Covid’.

Later today, Boris Johnson will tell his Cabinet that the reopening of schools should act as a springboard for ‘more normality’ for the whole country. 

Millions of children return to classrooms this week, with many heading back for the first time in almost six months. 

Professor Viner told The Sun: ‘If your job is about the care of children, and if you know that the risk of them getting ill with Covid is incredibly small, you want to see schools reopen.

Britain’s most senior paediatrician Professor Russell Viner (pictured) claims children are at a greater risk of contracting measles than coronavirus

One-year-old Alba Moss was left critically ill after catching measles from someone who was not vaccinated 

‘Last week saw yet another scientific paper telling us very, very few children become seriously ill with Covid-19.’

He urged parents to make sure their children are up to date with their vaccinations.

This includes MMR, which some youngsters have missed out while doctors’ offices have remained shut or as parents have been too concerned about the virus to take them to see medics. 

One-year-old Alba Moss was left critically ill after catching measles from someone who was not vaccinated.  

Little Alba, who was too young to have her first jab, became unwell with a high temperature this April and was admitted to hospital.


Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an infected person by coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.

Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection, and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, a fever and a rash.

The rash appears as red and blotchy marks on the hairline that travel down over several days, turning brown and eventually fading.

Some children complain of disliking bright lights or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.

In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.

Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society told MailOnline: ‘Measles can be very serious.

‘[It] can cause encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain.

‘Encephalitis can result in death or disability.’

Treatment focuses on staying hydrated, resting and taking painkillers, if necessary.

Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital

Doctors diagnosed her with measles, which made her so poorly her eyes fused shut.

Alba spent eight days at Chelsea and Westminster hospital, London, but she has since recovered. 

Around 40 per cent of schools in England are expected to open today, with the rest following later in the week. 

They were closed by Covid-19 on March 20, with only vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers allowed to continue classes.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Jenny Harries told Sky News ‘Every time a parent sends their children to school, [even] pre-Covid, they may have been involved in a road traffic accident – there are all sorts of things. 

‘That risk, or the risk of seasonal flu, we think is probably higher than the current risk of coronavirus.’

Union leader Geoff Barton said reopening schools would be ‘a vital step in the process of national recovery’. 

The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders praised staff for their ‘meticulous planning’, saying: ‘They have done a fantastic job in putting in place a complex set of safety measures to minimise the risks associated with coronavirus.

‘Schools will be focusing on the task of identifying where pupils have fallen behind with their learning during the lockdown period, and tailoring support to bring these young people back up to speed as quickly as possible.’

A Government source said the Prime Minister will set out his ‘priorities for the autumn’ during a meeting with ministers this morning as the first lessons of the new school year take place. ‘He wants to gradually get back to more normality, and the return of schools plays a big part in that,’ the source said. 

‘As children go back more parents will be freed up to return to work. At the same time, [Mr Johnson] wants to get further down the track to recovery on Covid – getting the test-and-trace regime improved and getting the local lockdown process beefed up, so that we never have to have a return to national lockdown.

‘And you will see a doubling down on the agenda from the election – levelling up opportunity across the country.’

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called on bosses to ‘show some backbone’ and ‘start getting their people back to work’ now that children are returning to school, adding: ‘If we don’t get this right, the economy will suffer, people will lose their jobs and more people will die.’ 

Fellow Conservative MP Steve Baker added: ‘The return of schools holds out the hope that parents will start to return to the office. With that, our town centres can be rescued from ruin. The future is bleak indeed if parents stay at home.’ 

While ministers are confident that the new term will go ahead as planned, their biggest fear is families refusing to send their children back to school.

Millions of children return to classrooms this week, with many heading back for the first time in almost six months. Pictured: Students at St Columba’s High School, Gourock, disinfecting their hands

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined a class of year 11 pupils at Castle Rock school, Coalville, on their the pupils’ first day back

The Education Secretary made a final bid to win over sceptical parents yesterday. Gavin Williamson – who is due to be grilled in the Commons over the summer exams fiasco today – stressed that children returning to classrooms is crucial ‘not only for their education but for their development and wellbeing too’.

His plea came as a report warned that pupils may have fallen as much as three months behind, with boys faring worse than girls.

Teachers in the most deprived schools were more than three times more likely to report that their pupils are even further behind, the National Foundation for Educational Research said.

Parents can be fined as a last resort if they keep their children away from school without good reason.

Local authorities may issue penalties of £120 – cut to £60 if settled within 21 days – with parents facing the threat of prosecution if they fail to pay up. However, the NAHT, which represents head teachers, has called for this threat to be lifted as ‘a fine is unlikely to make you feel any safer’.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: ‘We can see few circumstances in which a fine would be appropriate in this “Covid term”.’

Schools also fear that anti-virus measures will have a serious impact on stretched budgets. An estimated £2.4billion in extra funding may be required to help them cope, The Guardian reported.   

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