THE UK has “no clear strategy” to tackle coronavirus beyond “reactive lockdowns”, a public health expert has said.

Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of public health at Edinburgh University, called for more substantial measures to combat the pandemic as she outlined a three-plonged plan.

The Scottish Government adviser suggested paying people to self-isolate, as well as calling for tougher rules on international travel and improvements to track and trace systems.

The UK has seen some form of restrictions placed on the population for almost a year, Sridhar pointed out, adding that it is “unrealistic” to expect people to adhere to rules for months on end.

She told Times Radio: “I think the larger issue here is the UK has no clear strategy beyond reactive lockdowns whenever hospitals are under pressure.

“People have been in lockdown for almost a year and I think it is unrealistic for people to continue to distance and avoid mixing for months and months when it’s part of what makes us human.”

The National: Professor Devi SridharProfessor Devi Sridhar

The professor added: “I see this slightly differently. We need a plan to stop these lockdowns, and to learn from other countries – those in east Asia and the Pacific – which are largely back to normal.”

Sridhar said the UK should continue for the next 12 weeks, with a post-lockdown strategy put in place to suppress the virus going into the summer.

She commented: “With the numbers we’re at, there’s no other choice.

“For me, it’s a three-phase strategy – first is right now, it’s crude, it’s catastrophic for the economy and for people’s mental health, but a lockdown.

“Get those numbers down, protect the NHS for the next 12 weeks.”

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The public health expert continued: “When we get into March and hopefully numbers are low again and we get into seasonal change, get your testing and tracing and your border measures in place to really suppress.

“And then in the summer, instead of taking your foot off the gas and saying ‘let’s open up everything’, actually think ‘how do we prevent this winter from happening again? How do we actually protect that low prevalence, get emergency teams in place in case there are flare ups … go in, have a quick, sharp one-week lockdown and get your testing and tracing to clear the virus.”

Detailing her three-pronged suggestion to government ministers, Sridhar said people should be paid to self-isolate.

“First, they have a strategy that from the start they said there was no acceptable level of infection, I think in Western countries, in the UK, there was always the idea that you could have a certain level of infection as long as it didn’t really reach your hospital capacity,” she explained.

“The second thing is they have functional testing, tracing and isolating, test results within 24 hours – which we still do not have – isolation, paying people to stay home as an act of good will not just requesting it and having people be penalised for it.

“And third, robust border measures so you don’t keep having lockdowns and reimporting new strains.

“I find it amazing that schools are shut, I can’t visit my neighbour’s home, unemployment’s rising, businesses are shut. We’re having 1000 Covid deaths a day but the one thing I can do is I can go on holiday to Dubai easily and return easily back without any testing at the airport.”

Meanwhile, Matt Hancock suggested people will be vaccinated against Covid annually, as with the flu.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I think it’s highly likely that there will be a dual-vaccination programme for the foreseeable, this is the medium-term, of flu and Covid.”

The Health Secretary also said the UK was on track to reach its target of 13 million people vaccinated by mid-February, with all adults to be offered the jag by autumn.