A PROFESSOR has criticised the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying “a series of mistakes” has left the country with more cases than there should be.

The University of Sussex’s Dr Joshua Moon, who is part of a global research study into testing, believes lockdown was lifted too soon.

The Government has expressed fears of a resurgence. Dr Moon said it had made errors that had worsened the crisis.

He took issue with its approach to testing and said there was too much focus on cases coming in from abroad when infections inside the country pose a huge threat.

He also criticised the Government’s “top-down” guidance and said it had relied on too small a pool of advisers.

“The UK Government has made a series of mistakes in its response,” he said.

“The relaxation of restrictions for me came slightly too early.

“The number would have levelled off had we stuck out with a full lockdown and we would be seeing lower numbers. Now, we’re seeing the reproduction rate get closer to one and above.”

Dr Moon accepted the Government needed to make assumptions about Covid-19 early on but said it had fixated on seeing it as a virus like the flu.

He also criticised the Government on testing. He said that after contact tracing was suspended in March, the virus had been “left to its own devices” until test and trace was re-established.

He took issue with the decision to “revoke contact tracing and outsource the bulk of testing and processing”.

He said there had been a big split between national and local approaches that hampered the country’s response. The Government should have been better at helping communities understand how to protect themselves, rather than simply telling them what to do, he said.

He said this “top-down” approach meant that as soon as the Government began easing restrictions, people thought it would be safe – where, he said, “in reality the risks are on a spectrum”.

Dr Moon called for more to be done to clamp down on the spread of the virus. There’s an assumption that we’ll have to get used to the state we’re in,” he said.

“But what should be happening is that we’re a bit more aggressive about bringing the numbers down.”

Dr Moon welcomed the new, ten-day isolation period for those who test positive or show symptoms of the virus.

But he was critical of the way testing at the country’s borders has become a central focus. “We need to be thinking about transmission inside the country – not just looking out, fearful of cases coming in,” he said.

The Government, which said contact tracing had “changed” rather than been suspended, said it had made “significant strides” in tackling coronavirus.

It said it had been “guided by scientific advice,” and had established one of the world’s largest testing programmes, as well as making progress in finding a vaccine.

It said it was “prepared to take further decisive action as needed”.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have established, from scratch, one of the world’s largest testing programmes, with capacity for 300,000 tests every day and we have already traced more than 218,000 people who may have unknowingly spread the virus.

“This month the Prime Minister announced a further £3 billion for the NHS to provide high quality care as we head into winter, while treatments like Dexamethasone have been proven to save lives and the progress of vaccines is promising.

“As demonstrated in Leicester, this Government we will be guided by scientific advice and is prepared to take further decisive action as needed. We urge the public to play their part by following the latest government guidance.”