BRITAIN'S coronavirus lockdown could last until the end of May, a senior adviser said today.

But Professor Neil Ferguson warned a high level of infection will last for "weeks" if Brits break social distancing rules this weekend.

The PM's adviser told BBC Radio 4 the pandemic was expected to plateau in the next week to ten days - but said people's behaviour was critical in determining what happens next.

Asked what would happen if Brits flout the social distancing rules this weekend during a mini heatwave, he said: "That moves us to a slightly more pessimistic scenario.


"We still think things will plateau but we'll be at quite high levels of infection for weeks and weeks rather than seeing quite a rapid decline as the type seen in China."

Professor Ferguson also said he was "hopeful" the drastic lockdown measures could be relaxed in a few weeks' time to make way for rapid access to testing.

But he warned the new "regime" would still "not be normal life" and would only work once positive cases are lower.

The Argus:

Prof Ferguson added: "We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we're able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now."

He said if there was a rapid decline in cases, the Government would consider whether it could relax certain measures in "a way which is safe and still ensures the epidemic goes down".

Prof Ferguson was behind Boris Johnson's decision to trigger coronavirus lockdown - warning if we didn't ramp up the fight against the killer bug, 260,000 would die.

A team from Imperial College London - led by the academic - found the new tighter controls could limit deaths to around 20,000.

They admitted the best case scenario would still see tens of thousands die.

Prof Ferguson ended up having to self-isolate himself after he fell ill with a fever - one of the main Covid-19 symptoms.

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. To donate visit