A PROFESSOR believes MPs are wrong to blame the rapid spread of coronavirus on the decision not to impose border quarantine rules at the start of the pandemic.

The University of Sussex’s Dr Joshua Moon, who is part of a global research study into testing, instead said the Government’s “sluggishness” in imposing stricter lockdown measures was behind the UK’s devastating toll.

A Commons Home Affairs Committee report published earlier this week said “critical errors” – including the “inexplicable” decision to lift all border restrictions in March – accelerated the scale and pace of the pandemic in the country and led to “many more people contracting Covid-19”.

Dr Moon agreed that having quarantine rules for travellers earlier on would have seen a reduction in cases.

But he said: “Keeping borders open may have played a role but I don’t think it’s the differentiating factor between the UK and other European countries. That’s not the reason we have been worse affected.”

Instead, he said key failures had had a greater impact – including “allowing stadiums to be filled, not going into a rapid lockdown, quickly easing it, and scaling down contact tracing as the pandemic ramps up”.

He has previously criticised the Government, saying “a series of mistakes” has left the country with more cases than there should be. He argued that lockdown had been eased too soon.

The MPs’ report – published on Wednesday – was damning about the Government’s failure to provide the scientific advice behind its decisions, despite repeated requests and promises to do so.

The committee said it was “completely unacceptable” and warned ministers may have been making decisions without sight of “critical information”.

The MPs said the lack of clarity was “very serious and may well have contributed to mistakes being made”. Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper said: “It has been extremely difficult to work out who took key decisions and on what basis.”

Last-minute decisions and mixed messages were also “very unhelpful” for holidaymakers, and the Government needs to be “much more sensitive” to the impact on families and businesses, the committee said.

The committee also remained “unconvinced” by Home Office claims that an estimated 99.9 per cent of the public subjected to quarantine restrictions were complying with the rules and called for the findings to be “better evidenced” and routinely published.

A Government spokeswoman said the committee was “incorrect” in its “assertions”, adding: “All of our decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep us all safe.”