Warning we may need tougher lockdown rules as more people will die

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the decision to impose the lockdown in March, said he was “encouraged” that the Government was responding to the rise in coronavirus cases but warned further measures may be needed.

His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought in tough new rules – banning people from meeting in groups of more than six, ordering pubs and restaurants to collect contact details and tightening quarantine.

The Imperial College epidemiologist told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “One of the mistakes made early on in this crisis was being cautious in responding to the epidemic and that led to the UK being later than we would have liked in locking down, and therefore we saw the death toll this country did see.

“And I am encouraged that now we are responding in a more timely manner – we have a lot more data available to track the epidemic.”

He said “all the analysis” suggested there would be an “uptick in deaths in the coming weeks, so now is the time to respond”.

But Prof Ferguson warned: “The measures just announced will take some weeks to have an effect, so we need to wait at this point and see how much it will flatten the curve.

“And then if that is not sufficient to bring the reproduction number below one, so the epidemic starts shrinking again, then yes, we may need to clamp down in other areas.”

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