The UK is on track to open up in June and scrap lockdown rules but Brits must be prepared for new variants to emerge, a Covid expert has warned.
After months of restrictions, England is expected to emerge from almost all restrictions from June 21.
But we still need to be “cautious” and prepare for a potential resurgence this autumn, says Professor Peter Openshaw, who is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nertag).
He told the Andrew Marr Show the country needs to keep an eye on case numbers and new variants.
Professor Openshaw said: “I think we are on course at the moment but we have to just keep an eye on what is going on in terms of case numbers and in terms of new variants that will be arising internally but also coming into the country.
“It’s inevitable that those variants will be on our shores or expanding to some areas.
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“We just need to be very cautious and we need to use this time to prepare particularly for what may happen in the autumn when we go back to school.
“This is a time to prepare.”
Looking ahead to the summer, the Covid expert said people will be able to go on holiday “within limits” but it’s likely there will be further outbreaks and it’s too early to declare a victory over the virus.
He added: “It’s so important that we do not drop our guard completely.
“We know it’s perfectly likely there will be further outbreaks unless we use this time to be very cautious and prepare sensibly.”
When asked about replacing self-isolation periods with daily testing, Professor Openshaw, said: “This is a very contentious point.
“There are people who think that the lateral flow tests are going to be extremely useful and there are those who think that the accuracy, the sensitivity and specificity of these tests are so low that there is going to be an awful lot of false positives.
“I’m sure lateral flow tests do have a place and, if we test repeatedly, I think you will find people who are going to be most prone to spreading disease.
“These are important studies to do, important experiments to do in order to work out exactly what the role of lateral flow tests is.”
He added: “I would absolutely say it is too early to declare victory and to drop our guard.
“We do know that this infection has a tendency to come back again and we need to use this time to be absolutely sure we have got every precaution in place to stop further outbreaks.”
Using a traffic light system, the ‘green’ countries which Brits can fly to once restrictions are eased on May 17 could be announced by Friday.