As the national security council meets today to decide on the measures to be taken to enter the next phase of confinement, virologist Marc Van Ranst has raised the issue of children being able to visit their grandparents.
According to Prof Van Ranst, together with epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme, there could now appear a “window of opportunity” when it could be possible to allow grandparents to see their grandchildren, and vice versa.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the official advice has been to keep children and the elderly apart. Children can be infected without symptoms; elderly people are more at risk of serious consequences if infected. The only safe option was to keep the two groups separate.
Speaking on the VRT programme Terzake, Prof Van Ranst said, “The virus is still there, the epidemic is still there, and it will not go away soon. Maybe now is the time to leave children with the grandparents.”
“Most children have not been at school for a long time, and a majority were not ill and mainly stayed at home. This small window of opportunity will soon be over, when some groups return to school,” he said.
The security council is expected to announce a partial return to school later today.
Professor Van Damme, speaking on DeAfspraak, also on the VRT, followed the same line.
“We started with the flu model, and in that case children are the engine of the epidemic. You might think this would be the same with Covid-19, but that is not true,” he said.
“Children are equally susceptible to the disease, but they are not as likely to pass it on.
It could be more likely, he explained, for grandparents to be infected by their own children, than by their grandchildren.
“That’s a big change in our way of thinking, but we have to be careful. There must be sufficient scientific evidence and there must be discussion with experts. This is an infection we are learning something new about every day. That is fascinating, but we also have to be careful in every step we take.”