NERVTAG member tells LBC he 'doesn't see logic' of Tier 4 for London and South East

21 December 2020, 09:20 | Updated: 22 December 2020, 08:40

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A top scientist today told LBC he finds it “very hard to see the logic” of plunging London and the South East into Tier 4 and called for calm over the new variant of Covid-19 saying it is "something we should be concerned about" but that people shouldn't panic.

Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told Nick Ferrari he was surprised that after the advisory group expressed “moderate confidence that there was something we should be concerned about”, that this was “transformed over the course of 24 hours into a national panic”. 

He said he didn't see the logic of Tier 4 restrictions because the new coronavirus variant is “all over the UK anyway”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that London and the South East would enter new Tier 4 restrictions, banning people from meeting friends and family indoors over the festive season and closing all non-essential retail, as the UK grapples with the new more infectious strain of Covid-19.

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Prof Dingwall said although London and the South East is a “particular hotspot”, Nervtag made “no particular recommendations about control measures”.

He said he found it “very hard to see the logic” of the measures “if you consider that significant numbers of cases were being found all over the country a week-ten days ago”.

"The genie’s out of the bottle”, he added.

Prof Dingwall said the travel ban being put in place on the UK by European countries also lacked logic, adding the only reason they have not identified the variant is because “they haven’t looked for it”.

He added this is because the UK does a lot more “screening of the genetic drift in the virus”.

Over the weekend Health Secretary Matt Hancock implied that Tier 4 measures may be here for a long time because of the new variant, which is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain.

Announcing the new restrictions on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early analysis showed the new strain could increase the reproductive rate by 0.4 or more, making it very difficult to reduce cases.

Mr Johnson will hold crisis talks with ministers on Monday morning after France banned lorries carrying freight from the UK and countries around the world ended flights amid fears over the variant.

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