LONDON: Further restrictions including closing bars and restaurants could be needed to keep coronavirus under control while schools and universities remain open, an expert has warned.
Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said the most important measures were reducing contacts between households. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that with schools and universities open ways needed to be found to reduce contacts in other areas, such as an “extended half term” or closing hospitality venues.
Prof Ferguson added: “So we are in a more difficult position, if we want to keep schools open, we have to reduce contacts in other areas of society by more. “You will have heard measures being discussed across society as a whole such as extended half terms where we try to reduce transmission for a concerted period. “I think those measures should be considered.”
Prof Ferguson – whose modelling led to the original nationwide lockdown – also said that contact tracing data showed that attending bars and restaurants was a risk factor in contracting the virus.
Closing venues should be considered in “hotspot” areas where case numbers are increasing but the risk of transmission from meeting people outside was low, he added.
Prof Ferguson said: “If people are sensible meeting outdoors, really the risk is quite low. “I think the risk really comes from meeting indoors, in enclosed environments. “Of course, as the weather gets colder meeting outdoors is less appealing, people obviously do want to meet indoors but that’s where transmission happens unfortunately.”
Prof Ferguson also said that there was a risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed with deaths, hospital admissions and beds occupied by Covid-19 patients doubling every two weeks.