A scientist involved advising the UK Government has said there is little point in primary school children wearing face masks to prevent coronavirus transmission.

Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4: "Primary school children are the lowest risk both to themselves and to society.

"There is really good data coming out ... that shows that children are half as likely to acquire the virus to a third as likely to acquire the virus.

"When it comes to transmitting they are probably half as likely to transmit it as adults. That risk actually gets smaller as you go into younger age groups. I am not a great fan of young children wearing face masks.

"If I had to invest in a single activity to improve the environment both for the children and the adults, I'd be looking at improving the ventilation, unsealing windows that have been painted shut and kept shut for energy-saving reasons.

"That would be a much more effective way to reduce transmission in schools."

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has welcomed the intervention of the Queen encouraging people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Mr Buckland told reporters: "I think anything the Queen says has immense power.

"She was implying that it was not only good for our own health but that it was also an altruistic act, and that in doing so we all collectively enhance the safety of others.

"The message of encouragement, information, support for people who have never had a vaccine before is hugely important.

"I think the Queen again in her usual way has helped reinforce that important message."

Mr Buckland has refused to rule out the prospect of prison inmates and staff in England being vaccinated en masse in the next phase of the rollout of the coronavirus jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is due to publish its recommendations on who should get the vaccine once the rollout to the first nine priority groups - including the over-50s - is complete.

While Mr Buckland said prisoners will not be prioritised over other groups, he also emphasised the need for speed and for protecting prison staff.

"Prisoners will not be getting priority. At the moment they are vaccinated in accordance with the current guidelines, in accordance with what is happening in the community," he told LBC.

"What is clear is that the need for speed is everything here. I will be supporting anything that gives us speed and maximises the impact that it has.

"Prisons are a closed environment, like care homes. I have got to think about the welfare of staff. I am particularly anxious to make sure that prison staff get the vaccine.

Mr Buckland has rejected suggestions that the Queen was interfering in politics by encouraging people to have a coronavirus vaccination.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "As is so often the case in our history, the Queen can, just with a few words, encapsulate the mood of the nation.

"I think we can trust the Queen to get it right. An issue like the vaccine and indeed the Covid pandemic goes beyond politics.

"Messages of unity are very much part of what the Queen is all about. She has got it right for nearly 70 years. She continues not to put a foot wrong."

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said employers such as care homes must have a "clear rationale" if they want to require new staff to have the coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment.

Mr Buckland told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Future contracts and contracts of employment are indeed matters between employers and employees.

"I think that where such conditions are imposed there needs to be a very clear rationale for them.

"In a care home, a closed environment where there are vulnerable residents, I would argue there does seem to be an obvious rationale.

"I think it will depend very much on each setting and the particular context. That is why I don't think it would be right to say there can be a blanket approach here because we need to go back to the fundamental fact that vaccines are not compulsory here in the UK."

A woman who was among the first people to check into a quarantine hotel has said she is looking forward to seeing her husband after months apart.

Eritza East, 37, from Southampton, who was with her three children, said she had a double room at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport.

She said: "It was not ideal, but it wasn't terrible, I've been in much worse accommodation.

"The accommodation was really big and the beds were really comfy, the only problem was the food wasn't always kid-friendly.

"Other than that, the security was really nice and very supportive."

She added: "I'm looking forward to seeing my husband, I haven't seen him in seven months."

Positive attitudes towards the coronavirus vaccine have increased, with nearly 95% of adults saying they have either received the jab or would be likely to have it if offered, new data shows.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, published on Friday, show 94% of adults surveyed between February 17 and 21 reported they had now either received the vaccine or would be very or fairly likely to have it if offered.

This is up from 91% the previous week and has risen from early December 2020 when around eight in 10 (78%) adults indicated they would be likely to accept the vaccine if offered it.

Of the adults who said they would be unlikely to have the vaccine or had decided not to have it, the most common reasons were being worried about long-term impacts on their health (43%), being concerned about the side effects (37%) and waiting to see how well it worked (34%).

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said opting to keep with an age-based priority system for phase two of the vaccine programme meant it would be simpler to administer.

He told a Downing Street press briefing: "Operationally, we know that age is a very easy and simple way to structure a vaccine programme.

"When we consider occupational groups, there are occupations where the risk of exposure to the virus might be higher.

"If we look at who is at risk of severe disease, ie. being hospitalised or sadly dying from Covid-19, even within occupational groups, it is those people who are older who are more at risk compared to younger individuals.

"In the instance of phase two, it is the people who are aged 40-49 who are at higher risk compared to younger individuals."

Professor Wei Shen Lim said the JCVI believed it would be quicker to administer vaccines on an age-based priority in phase two.

He told a press briefing: "Speed is important.

"Of all the different approaches to vaccination, getting vaccines into arms as quickly as possible is the fastest way and the best way to maximise benefit to the population.

"Taking all of these factors into account, we advise that the offer of a vaccination in phase two should still be age-based, starting with the oldest and proceeding in the following order: those aged 40-49, followed by those aged 30-39 and lastly those aged 18-29.

"Following an age-based programme will be simple and simplicity has been one of the cornerstones of the current programme in terms of speed and its success."

Professor Wei Shen Lim has said the JCVI had decided against prioritising particular occupations for the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

He told an online briefing: "An occupation-based vaccine programme has never been tested before on a large scale in the UK. It is, in that sense, untested and untried.

"Trying to switch from an age-based programme to an occupation-based programme would be more complex and potentially introduce more delays to the programme.

"Speed is the critical factor here."

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said he was concerned about groups of people not taking up the offer to be vaccinated.

He told the press conference: "We are certainly concerned about groups of people who are not taking up the offer of vaccination because vaccination is the way to be protected against severe Covid.

"So the JCVI has looked at the information on vaccination uptake and coverage, and we are in regular contact with the Department of Health as well as NHS England to ask them to keep close attention to these groups and do everything possible to increase uptake."

When asked about whether the priorities of the vaccination programme will continue to be reviewed, he added: "We will be reviewing the priorities all the way down, even as we are doing so now.

"You are absolutely right as we move down the age groups the risk of severe disease will be lower and lower, and so we will be checking to make sure it is still the right thing to do to offer all these people a vaccine."

A headteachers' union has said it is "disappointed" the JCVI had decided against prioritising education staff for the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "The Government needs to make a policy decision on this matter having insisted that education is a national priority and having announced a 'big bang' return to the classroom in England.

"It must now back that up by providing a clear direction that education staff will be prioritised in the next phase of the programme.

"This is important not only in reassuring staff who it expects to work in busy and crowded environments, but also in terms of minimising disruption to education caused by staff absence as a result of Covid."