Key coronavirus adviser in isolation after fever

Professor Neil Ferguson said he probably caught Covid-19 at meetings to tackle the pandemic

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The lead author of a scientific paper whose work triggered a radical shift in UK government policy over coronavirus has self-isolated after showing symptoms.

Prof Neil Ferguson said he would remain at his London flat for seven days after developing a high fever overnight.

He said that he developed a cough on Tuesday as he was telling the BBC that “We are left with no option but to adopt this more draconian strategy.”

The UK government introduced stricter rules on Monday on social contact following the report by Prof Ferguson’s London’s Imperial College Covid-19 response team.

The report said that about 250,000 people could die in the United Kingdom and 1.1 to 1.2 million in the United States unless draconian restrictions on normal life are introduced.

Prof Ferguson said he had a high fever at 4am and was still feeling “fairly grotty”.

“I’ve been in so many meetings over the last few weeks,” he told the BBC. “A number of my colleagues from other universities who have been advising government in those meetings have also developed symptoms.

“Central London is the hotspot in the UK at the moment, there are almost certainly thousands of central London so it’s not that surprising. I’ve been in a lot of meetings and contacting a lot of people.”

He said that he was at a Downing Street media conference during a period when he could have transmitted the virus.


“It’s becoming quite a widespread community infection particularly in hotspots like London,” he said. “It’s doubling at the moment every three or four days.”

Prof Ferguson’s team said strict restrictions on normal life could have to continue for at least 18 months until a vaccine is found. The draconian measures introduced followed updated research warning that health services would be overwhelmed.

Coronavirus: What is a pandemic?

Coronavirus: What is a pandemic?

The research suggested that the only viable strategy was a new suppression tactic that had been adopted in China and South Korea. The tactic required social distancing of the entire population and home isolation of cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday told people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres, and to avoid all non-essential travel.