Government scientist steps down after breaching his own advice on social distancing

Many of Wednesday's papers lead with the news that a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) adviser has stood down from his role after breaching social distancing rules.

Prof Ferguson "deeply regrets" undermining "the continuing need for social distancing", according to The Sun.

Ferguson, 51, leads a team at Imperial College London who modelled the spread and impact of the coronavirus in data that was instrumental in prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose lockdown measures.

His resignation came after the Daily Telegraph reported that a woman he was said to be in a relationship with visited his home on at least two occasions during the lockdown.

The Cabinet minister praised him as a "very eminent" scientist whose work has been "important" in the Government's response, but said he had to resign.

He also said that he had completely isolated himself for two weeks after developing the symptoms of COVID-19 and testing positive for coronavirus infection. The woman reportedly visited the scientist's house on March 30 and again on April 8, during the country's lockdown period.

Meanwhile, London's Guardian newspaper quoted a statement from Imperial College London as saying that Ferguson 'continues to focus on his important research'. This would breach rules which say citizens must only leave their homes to shop for food, for exercise or medical needs, or if they can not work from home.

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Asked whether Prof Ferguson's comments about immunity - in which he stated that he believed he was immune after contracting Covid-19 - should be taken seriously, Mr Brokenshire said it is "too early" to reach conclusions.

Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson developed models that predicted hundreds of thousands would die unless the United Kingdom imposed drastic restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"We due to this fact don't intend to take any additional action".

Prof Ferguson's research warned that 250,000 people could die in the United Kingdom without drastic action before the Prime Minister imposed restrictions.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary said he was left "speechless" after learning of Prof Ferguson's "extraordinary" breach of the lockdown, adding: "Everyone has got to follow the social distancing rules".

Hancock told Sky News it was up to the police to decide whether any action should be taken against Ferguson.

The lockdown, which prevents people from meeting anyone who lives outside their household, is set to be reviewed on Thursday.

  • Sonia Alvarado