Scientists have warned the country is ‘on a knife-edge’ and needs to remain vigilant to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases in the winter.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), admitted he was ‘worried’ about a possible spike in infections ahead of the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on July 4.
The director of the Wellcome Trust warned there could be a ‘very nasty rebound’ of coronavirus in the winter if the UK does not use the next few months ‘sensibly’.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he said: ‘In truth, the restrictions started to be lifted towards the end of May, the beginning of June, around that bank holiday.
‘I would predict, I would guess, that we will start to see a few increases in cases towards the end of June or the first week of July.’
Sir Jeremy added: ‘We’re on a knife-edge, it’s very precarious the situation, particularly in England at the moment, and I would anticipate we would see an increase in new cases over the coming weeks.’
He argued the next three months were ‘absolutely critical’ in the fight against coronavirus in the UK.
He said: ‘Come the winter, come the reopening of schools, which is absolutely critical, we can anticipate to see rebounds and second waves.
‘The question is do you start from a very low base, like in Scotland, a few dozens cases, or maybe a few hundred cases in England, and then you’re in a good position if there are local outbreaks that you can respond locally and you can prevent the national catastrophe that happened in March and April.
‘That’s the key, using June, July and August really cleverly, making sure we have everything in place and learning the lessons from February and March.’
He said doctors had got better at treating patients with Covid-19, but it still represented a ‘very, very nasty infection’.
Sir Jeremy added: “You’ve got to move faster than the epidemic, you’ve got to move ahead of the pandemic.
‘Once you get behind it, you have exponential growth, you lose track of it and that’s what happened across Europe, particularly in the UK, in March and April of this year.’
He argued the government’s test, trace and isolate system needed to be ‘fully functional’ by September to help the fight against coronavirus.Follow us: