BBC Inside Science
Back to School and Covid-19 and Ordnance Survey and the pandemic
Thursday, 4 June
As the lockdown eases and some children, in preschool and primary years, start heading back to school, what impact will this have on the pandemic, how will we know and is there anything we can do about it?
Marnie Chesterton talks to Professor of Mathematical Biology at Cambridge University, Julia Gog, who co-chaired the group that advised the government on the impact of easing school closures. She explains why the limited opening of schools provides a golden opportunity to learn about its impact on the pandemic, and inform what happens in September when the new school year begins.
Marnie also talks to Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, to find out what parents can do to help control the spread of the virus in their communities. He runs the COVID Symptom Study, a huge citizen science project that’s pinpointing the symptoms most closely associated with Covid-19. Millions of British adults have downloaded the app, to take part in the study, logging how they feel each day and adding symptoms when they feel unwell. The breakthrough that losing your sense of smell, or anosmia, is a common symptom in Covid-19, arose from this app.
While children with Covid-19 tend to have mild or no symptoms, Tim Spector believes that some cases are being missed because many of the symptoms we’re told to look out for in adults, such as fever, are transient or absent in children. Tim explains which symptoms parents should look out for in children, including anosmia and a range of rashes such as ‘covid toe’. If parents log their children’s symptoms each day, the hope is he’ll have enough data to further refine the symptoms most closely associated with Covid-19 in children. Parents will then be better placed to spot them, if they occur, and keep their children at home.
You might be forgiven for thinking that Ordnance Survey (OS), the national mapping agency for Great Britain, would be having a quiet time during the lockdown. But its online OS Map apps have seen a 300% increase in use, with users not only checking out new places and walks in their local area, but using the virtual maps to plan and imagine themselves on walks in more remote and far flung parts of Great Britain. But Ordnance Survey is so much more than just leisure maps. It runs the Master Map of Great Britain, a massive, interactive, geospatial database which can be interrogated by anyone in the public sector with questions on geography, planning, logistics, addresses and more. The list is long. And during the coronavirus pandemic, the Mapping for Emergencies service has been busy helping the NHS find places for blood testing facilities and PPE storage; working out which walkways are wide enough to allow social distancing, working out where the nearest pharmacies to vulnerable people are and much more.
Presenter - Marnie Chesterton
Producers - Beth Eastwood and Fiona Roberts