The UK faces another national lockdown “in short order” unless people abide by new COVID-19 restrictions, a government adviser has told Sky News.

Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, told Sophy Ridge on Sunday the public “must act fast” to stop the spread of coronavirus.

He said: “I think everyone is in agreement that we really need to act very quickly now in order to prevent this from growing exponentially and that’s the main point, is that we must act fast because it is so much harder to get this sort of thing under control if you delay even a few days.

Professor Openshaw, who is an expert in respiratory medicine, stressed the importance of data that suggests the virus reproduction (R) rate has increased to 1.7.

Asked about the new “rule of six” and whether the government needs to look at further restrictions including more working from home or curfews, he said that it would “cause pain and suffering for us to all go back to some degree of lockdown”.

He added: “But if we don’t do this now we are going to be right back in hard lockdown in short order, that’s the only way we have at the moment for controlling this but there are other things on the horizon.

“We need to act quickly. This isn’t a game. We shouldn’t be out trying to party as hard as we can in the run up to Monday’s lockdown.

Asked about when he thinks a vaccine could be available, he said he is hopeful there will be one by the winter of 2021/22.

Prof Openshaw said: “I do think we will probably have positive results of at least one of these vaccine trials by Christmas.

“That means with rapid scaling up we could have a rapid vaccine scheme over the next nine months.”

But he told Sky News the government wants to take a “range of measures”, including local restrictions and enhanced testing, to avoid a second shutdown.

Mr Buckland was quizzed on the “rule of six” that will limit how many people can meet in England from tomorrow.

He said that “while social occasions are important”, they “must take second place” so Britain can prioritise schools, universities and the economy.

But Dr Bharat Pankhania, a clinical expert from the University of Exeter, described the rule of six as “arbitrary”.

He told Sky News: “It’s all based on arbitrary modelling unfortunately. They came up with a number of six, but it could quite easily be eight, it could quite easily be four. I think unfortunately this is not helpful at all.”

He echoed Professor Openshaw’s concerns and urged people to “reduce interactions with other humans in every domain possible”.

Dr Pankhania added: “We have mingling on crowded transport, in offices, schools opening, restaurants, pubs. So all those factors are also where infections can happen and spread.

“We need to address those factors as well as the number of people we interact with.”

© 2020 Sky UK


News – Coronavirus: UK faces second hard national lockdown if we don’t follow COVID-19 rules, adviser warns