Home Science Top UK government scientist quits after breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules

Top UK government scientist quits after breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules

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Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist on the advisory team helping the UK coordinate its pandemic response, stepped down following media reports that he had allowed a woman to visit him at home.

By PTI

LONDON: A top UK government scientist, who was behind the country’s strategy to impose strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, has resigned after a media report revealed that he broke the rules and allowed a woman he was said to be in a relationship with to visit his home during the lockdown.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist whose modelling convinced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to press ahead with a UK-wide lockdown, quit the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) after allegations emerged in The Daily Telegraph.

He admitted that he had allowed a woman Antonia Staats to visit him at his London home after travelling across the UK capital from her home, which she shares with her husband and children, on at least two occasions.

The movement goes against the very strict stay at home and save lives advice of the government, put in place by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prompted by the scientific team led by Ferguson.

The incidents took place soon after the 51-year-old leading epidemiologist from Imperial College London had completed a two-week spell self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

“I accept I made an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action.

I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in SAGE,” said Ferguson after the report.

“I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms. I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing,” he said.

The scientist, however, stressed that the government’s advice on social distancing remains “unequivocal”, adding that it was there “to protect all of us”.

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