Scientists warn coronavirus spreading ‘too fast’ to lift lockdown


LONDON: Leading scientists advising the government on lockdown strategy have warned that the virus is spreading “too fast” to lift restrictions, days before strict rules start to ease. 

Government advisers have warned that the easing of lockdown measures could cause a new spike in the spread of coronavirus.  Scientists Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds, both members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – which advises the government on the Covid-19 – said ministers were taking risks by following their current plans.

Sir Jeremy Farrar

They expressed concern at allowing the gradual reopening of shops and schools and larger gatherings to meet in private while the number of new cases each day remains “relatively high”.

Farrar also said the newly-introduced NHS test-and-trace system needed to be “fully working” before measures were eased.

Meanwhile, a tranche of papers released by Sage revealed advice given to the government in April said it was “likely” the R-value – the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person – would increase if non-essential shops reopened.

The comments come as Britain settles into a weekend of high temperatures, with the police urging the public to follow current safeguards about social contact ahead of the lessening of restrictions, which will allow up to six people to meet outside if social distancing is observed from Monday. 

In a Twitter post, Farrar said: “Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice. “TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower.”