A scientist advising Boris Johnson has claimed he never heard the 10pm pub curfew plan discussed before it was announced.
The prime minister told people in England this week to work from home where possible and ordered restaurants and bars to close early from Thursday to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of coronavirus.
Some politicians have questioned whether those measures go far enough, however, with the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, telling households they also cannot mix indoors.
Professor Graham Medley, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee, has now said the group never talked about the impact the policy of closing hospitality services earlier would have on infection rates.
He said: “I never discussed it or heard it discussed.”
His colleague on Sage, Professor John Edmunds, also previously said the curfew was “fairly trivial” and would have a “very small impact on the epidemic”.
Prof Medley, a professor of infectious disease modelling, added: “We put forward, what we think works, but it’s the government which decides what package of measures to put forward and, in the end, it’s a societal decision.”
He said he was worried the UK could be moving too slowly to tackle the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases because of a lag between case numbers and deaths which means fatalities have remained relatively low.
He added deaths would rise in three to four weeks to around 100 a day.
Prof Medley said: “And the things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day, but they will stop that progressing much higher.”
The UK already has the highest death toll in Europe from COVID-19, at 41,936.
While around 900 people died a day at the April peak of the pandemic, current death rates are around 30.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday new cases in England had shot up to around 9,600 per day in the week to 19 September, up from around 6,000 the previous week.
It was also reported the number of coronavirus patients who have been put on ventilators has doubled in the past eight days.
The most recent government data shows 228 patients were on ventilators on Wednesday, up from 115 on 15 September.
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