'I think it's the right time' - UEA virus expert on Freedom Day

Prof Paul Hunter, from the UEA, has encouraged people to donate to the WHO's Covid-19 Response Fund

Prof Paul Hunter, from the UEA, has encouraged people to donate to the WHO's Covid-19 Response Fund - Credit: UEA

A leading expert in infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia has said he believes Monday's lifting of coronavirus restrictions is happening at the right time.

The government is pushing ahead with plans to remove all measures from Monday, July 19, but with cases on the rise some anxiety remains over whether it is the right time.

But UEA professor Paul Hunter, a leading expert in viral illnesses, said he believed this was the right window for restrictions to be lifted.

He said: "I think there are three windows where they could be lifted - now, in early September, or not until March or April of next year - and I believe now is the time when the risk factor is lowest.

"The balance between the benefits and disadvantages is much closer now than it would be in September, or later on."

Prof Hunter said of the three windows, now was the safest time for restrictions to be lifted, as by the autumn schools would have returned and vaccine doses may be less effective than they were now.

He said: "The big advantage of doing it now is schools are closing and it is the summer, both of which will reduce transmission.

"If we left it until the autumn I believe we would see more serious cases and more deaths. There is also evidence that autumn poses a greater risk of co-infection - which is when somebody may catch Covid alongside a separate disease like influenza."

Most Read

However, while he felt now was the best time for restrictions to be lifted, he added that he could not rule out the possibility of more being needed at a later date.

Meanwhile, Prof Hunter added that beyond the lifting of restrictions he would continue to make use of masks in crowded indoor settings.

He said: "I have not worn masks outdoors at any point and do not intend on starting, but I will still carry them and put one on if I am in a crowded place where others are and I feel they may feel more comfortable if I do too."


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus