Coronavirus latest news: Police forces across the country to impose even tougher crackdown as fresh laws loom

Current lockdown should be tightened, suggests pandemic influenza professor

Professor Robert West, a participant in the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), has called for a tightening of the current lockdown as a result of the newer variant being more infectious than the initial one.

He said the current lockdown rules are “still allowing a lot of activity which is spreading the virus”.

Asked if he thinks they should change, he told BBC News: “Yes, I do. Not just me. I think probably most of the people I talk to, epidemiologists, and medical scientists and virologists.”

The professor of health psychology at University College London said more children are going to school than in the first lockdown and that schools are “a very important seed of community infection”.

One in three schools had more than 20 per cent of pupils in attendance last Wednesday, figures from Teacher Tapp showed, while 15 per cent of primary schools had at least 30 per cent of pupils present amid demand from critical workers and families with children who are vulnerable.

Prof West added: “Because we have the more infectious variant, which is somewhere around 50 per cent more infectious than last time round in March, that means that if we were to achieve the same result as we got in March we would have to have a stricter lockdown, and it’s not stricter. It’s actually less strict.”