The UK remains “on a knife edge” and must act “sensibly” over the summer months to stop a second wave of coronavirus, a scientist has warned.
Sir Jeremy Farrar said he is “worried” about a surge in cases ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening next month.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said we have to be “conscientious” about the risk of a second wave.
She said the city of Leicester could face a localised lockdown after a rise in cases.
Sir Jeremy, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and director of the Wellcome Trust, has warned there could be a “very nasty rebound” of the virus in the winter.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We’re on a knife edge, it’s very precarious the situation, particularly in England at the moment, and I would anticipate we would see an increase in new cases over the coming weeks.”
His warning comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major easing of England’s lockdown to help to reopen the economy, with pubs, restaurants, hotels and many other businesses allowed to welcome back customers from 4 July.
Asked about the concerns raised by Sir Jeremy, Ms Patel told the same programme that “nothing would be more damaging for our country and for our economy” than a second spike in virus cases, adding that the government’s plans to ease measures were “pragmatic and responsible”.
Ms Patel also encouraged people to go to pubs when they reopen, but urged customers to “be responsible” and follow social distancing and hygiene guidance.
There have been concerns about people gathering around the UK during this week’s heatwave, including illegal street parties in London, Manchester and Cardiff, crowded beaches and Liverpool FC fans taking part in mass celebrations.