A prominent adviser to the Government on Covid-19 has said he is “very fearful” there will be another “lockdown Christmas” as he urged the public to do everything possible to reduce transmission of the virus.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said case numbers and death rates are currently “unacceptable”.
He said measures such as working from home and mask wearing are “so important” as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid.
The expert’s warning comes after the Prime Minister resisted calls from health leaders for tighter restrictions despite the rising levels of infections.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day but Downing Street insisted there was still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B would only be activated if it came under “significant pressure”.
Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Openshaw, of Imperial College London, told BBC Breakfast: “I’m very fearful that we’re going to have another lockdown Christmas if we don’t act soon.
“We know that with public health measures the time to act is immediately. There’s no point in delaying.
“If you do delay then you need to take even more stringent actions later. The immediacy of response is absolutely vital if you’re going to get things under control.
“We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together.
“If that’s what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas.”
Prof Openshaw said it is “unacceptable to be letting this run at the moment”, adding: “I think the hospitals in many parts of the country are barely coping actually.
“Talking to people on the front line, I think it’s just not sustainable to keep going at this rate.