A British doctor who resigned as PM Boris Johnson’s adviser after flouting the Covid-19 lockdown he helped design has suggested imposing even tougher rules to tackle the virus in areas where restrictions appear not to have worked.
Professor Neil Ferguson quit the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in May after it was revealed that he had met a married woman he was having an affair with at least twice, therefore breaking government orders to stay at home, the very ones he helped set.
However, on Friday the epidemiologist said that even more draconian rules could be needed in January, for areas like the East of England, which on Saturday will be plunged into the UK’s strictest ‘Tier 3’ measures amid spiking coronavirus cases.
“The concern I have right now is that…in the East of England, for instance, case numbers were rising during the last lockdown, so there may be a need for additional controls beyond even what were in place then,” Ferguson told the BBC’s World at One.
In the week up to December 18, there were sharp increases in the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 in London, the East of England and South East, compared to stable or falling rates in northern areas, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Ferguson also expressed his worries about a coronavirus surge in the new year, saying: “I’m actually more concerned about what we’re going to be facing in early January than I am over the Christmas period.”
His comments come after the UK government announced the easing of Covid-19 measures for five days between December 23 and 27, when people from up to three households from any part of the country will be able to meet together.
The move sparked alarm at the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal and the publications issued a joint statement slamming the Christmas plans as an “error” that will “cost many lives.”
Ferguson is no stranger to calling for other Brits to be slapped with additional coronavirus measures after breaking the rules himself, as he also pushed for another lockdown back in September.
His Imperial College London team predicted in the early months of the pandemic that more than 500,000 Brits would die from Covid-19 unless the country was placed into lockdown, which the prime minister then imposed in March.
Ferguson’s former SAGE colleagues on Friday revealed that the UK’s R number has risen to between 1.1 and 1.2, meaning that every 10 people who catch Covid-19 pass the virus on to another 11 or 12.
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