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Work from home order still option as it would cut contacts in half

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A statistics expert says telling people in England to work from home is still an option in the fight against Omicron, as it is a very effective way to slow down the spread.

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Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter described working from home as an “effective measure” which could still be used in England.

He told Today it is “known to be an effective measure of halving daily close contacts” and said this “might very well be wheeled out”.

Asked which kinds of measures have an impact, he said: “It’s very difficult to say what the precise effect of wearing a mask is.

“There’s a lot of judgment around it. They can be effective at reducing the risk, doesn’t eliminate it and it’s not the only thing that is necessary.

“But, in the end, it is how much people breathe over each other that makes a difference.

“So, we know that being in unventilated rooms fairly close together ups the risk a lot. And that’s why working from home, and being careful with meetings and singing and things like that, are very important.

“We know those are effective measures, just getting that distance between people and not cramming people in a room together.”

The standard response to uncertainty in the pandemic is to be cautious, the statistics expert has said.

Professor Spiegelhalter said there are “huge uncertainties” around the Omicron variant.

He told Today: “We’re plunged into a situation, new uncertainty about whether there’s increased transmission, whether it can evade immunity and so on. And we are going to find out more.

“But what we do in the meantime? The standard thing to do when you’re faced with really quite deep uncertainties is to be cautious. The precautionary principle is rational.”

He said there is “no correct answer”, adding: “I’ve got considerable sympathy with the decision-makers. There’s no precise thing to do.”





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