Stephen Matthews – Mail Online Jan 14, 2021
Britain’s lockdown rules may be needed until the autumn, scientists advising No10 warned today.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson — whose grim modelling that 500,000 Britons could die unless action was taken spooked ministers into the first national shutdown last March — said the easing of curbs would be a ‘gradual process’.
Asked if there could be restrictions for many months to come, he said: ‘Yes, and we can’t predict all of these things in advance.
‘We couldn’t have predicted this new variant coming up, but the new variant without doubt will make the relaxation of restrictions more difficult because it is substantially more transmissible.’
Professor Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London and member of SAGE, added: ‘It will be a gradual process to the autumn.’
Dr Susan Hopkins, one of the top officials at Public Health England (PHE), also added that England was likely going to have a ‘difficult time at least until Easter’.
The comments come amid fears Boris Johnson could tighter the rules even further, after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday imposed more curbs in Scotland.
But hopes that England could escape tougher lockdown measures rose today after science chief Patrick Vallance suggested the current measures are ‘enough’ to control the mutant Covid strain.
Professor Lockdown also claimed coronavirus survivors patients could face looser self-isolation restrictions. He said it could ease pressures on the NHS — roughly 10 per cent of medics are currently off sick or self-isolating, according to estimates.
His comments come after Public Health England researchers found that prior Covid infection cut the chances of falling ill with the virus in the next five months by up to 94 per cent.