Coronavirus Adviser Resigns After Breaching Lockdown Laws To Meet Married Lover
A UK scientist whose coronavirus modelling advice prompted Boris Johnson to lock down the country has quit his position as a government adviser after he admitted to "undermining" social distancing measures.
Professor Neil Ferguson's resignation comes after a newspaper report claimed he had allowed his lover, who lives with her husband and their two children in another house, to visit his home a number of times.
The UK's Daily Telegraph claimed that on at least two occasions, the woman had travelled from her home on the other side of London, to spend time with the 51-year-old.
Ferguson had also recently spent two weeks in self-isolation after testing positive for the virus and has repeatedly called on Britons to stay home and maintain social distancing measures to prevent catastrophic impacts of the pandemic in the UK.
Ferguson, an epidemiologist, leads a team at the Imperial College London that in mid-March produced modelling warning more than a quarter of a million people in the UK would die from the virus if stricter measures weren't put in place.
This modelling helped shape the UK's coronavirus lockdown strategy which has now seen Britons mostly confined to their homes for close to seven weeks.
On Tuesday Ferguson released a statement to The Daily Telegraph saying he accepted he made "an error of judgement" and confirmed he was stepping down from his role in Sage, the Government's Scientific Advisory Group.
"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," he said.
I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic.
The government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us."
People in the UK have only been allowed to go outside for essential shopping, essential work, seeking medical treatment, caring for vulnerable people or for exercising since the lockdown was put in place.
In late March, deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries was also asked to clarify what the lockdown rules meant for couples who do not live together and explained their option was to either stay apart for the time being or move in together.
“If the two halves of a couple are currently in separate households, ideally they should stay in those households,” Harries was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“The alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forwards, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.”
On Tuesday, it was confirmed the UK's virus death toll had surpassed Italy's, becoming the highest official toll in Europe sitting at 29,427 and the second highest in the world after the United States.
There have been more than 195,000 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom since the outbreak began.