A COUNTY virologist has spoken of his fears there could be another spike in Covid cases if the requirement to self isolate ends this month.

Professor Lawrence Young has warned that a variant "is inevitable" so protections such as self isolation are still needed.

He was speaking following reports the government is set to end the legal requirement for people that have tested positive for coronavirus to stay at home as part of the "Living Safely with Covid” strategy being announced on Monday (February 21).

"Ending self isolation, in the face of quite high infection numbers, is suggesting we will just ignore it," Professor Young said.

"If you are feeling poorly you should be staying at home not just to protect yourself but to protect others.

"If you remove all restrictions it means you will get highly infectious people walking about infecting everyone else.

"There is no question infection rates will then go up."

Reports have suggested free lateral flow tests could also be scrapped, with people forced to buy their own packs of tests at a price to be revealed.

Professor Young, who lives in Bromsgrove and works at Warwick Medical School, said: "We know a lot of people aren't bothering to test anyway right now, so a charge will just encourage more not to test.

"People will simply be put off testing if they have to pay. It is another bizarre move, when we need to keep monitoring Covid.

"What we do know about Covid is it is hard to predict, there could be a variant more transmissible and more dangerous. But we won't know if we are not monitoring.

"The first we are going to know (about a dangerous variant) would be when there is a spike in hospitalisations. It's a crazy thing to do.

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"We are letting our guard down. We need protections. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be starting to ease our way back into normality - and we may have breathing space between now and next winter.

"But the virus will keep changing. The pandemic is not over."