In less than three months cases of coronavirus have spread well beyond the epicentre in Wuhan, China to more than 50 countries across the world and can no longer be stopped, Professor Neil Ferguson said.
Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College warned attempts to stop coronavirus is now “over” and has urged the ministry of health to focus on early containment.
He particularly said the “elderly and frail” are at risk and has urged the elderly to adopt precautions against the virus.
Speaking to the BBC Today programme, Professor Ferguson said, “The world tried very hard to stop this virus altogether.
“You can see from the statistics, the number of countries affected that that battle is really over and now we’re moving towards trying to slow the spread to allow the health systems to cope and try to mitigate the impact of the epidemic.
“We’re in an early stage of the epidemic in this country.
“We’ve had some early signals that there is community transmission here but we’re several weeks behind, for example, Italy.
“We’re looking at the sort of community intervention, that is reducing contact between people in society which could slow spread.”
Professor Ferguson added, “Another important thing is targeting intervention in the most vulnerable, so try to protect principally the old and frail from getting infected.
“We are at an early stage in this country. I’m not saying we have a lot of time, we have days, weeks really, to make these decisions and start introducing these measures.
“But I think they will be introduced in a phased way which really targets reducing the peak burden on the health system to allow the NHS to cope.
“It particularly aims at reducing infection risks in the most vulnerable groups in society to reduce the burden of mortality which we expect to see.”