UK a month away from hospitalisations topping March numbers, Prof Ferguson warns

Earlier this month Nicola Sturgeon promised her mini-circuit breaker would be a “short, sharp” shutdown of Scottish pubs and restaurants to bring coronavirus under control.

Little more than two weeks later, however, Ms Sturgeon announced a change of plan.

Although the pace of spread of the coronavirus is slowing, scientists have suggested a ban on household mixing may be largely responsible for this, rather than the forced shutdown of pubs and restaurants.

And they added Scotland’s approach may be a lesson to other nations: that once a country enters a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown, it may be difficult to escape.

Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, said: “There’s the old argument that if we hadn’t done (the mini-circuit breaker), cases would have gone up faster. But that’s a guess, and the figures haven’t come tumbling down.

“They were always going to have difficulty in knowing how effective it was because the figures wouldn’t have come through to really give them an indication as to whether it was having any effect at all.”

Bill Gardner, Daniel Sanderson and Dominic Gilbert have more here