A TOP academic has warned a "trickle" of new coronavirus cases could become a "cascade" as he told Brits to stop partying ahead of new stricter lockdown rules.
Immunologist Peter Openshaw says Covid-19 "isn't a game" after cases began reappearing in the UK's care homes.
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Speaking on Sky this morning, the academic, who works at Imperial College London, said: "It's a bit like water seeping through a dam.
"It starts as a trickle, and then if you don't do something about it, it turns into a real cascade."
He urged caution amid reports Covid wards have been told they may need to reopen in just three weeks.
"The reproduction number has now jumped – it was down at 0.5 during its best over the summer, and it's now at 1.7, so that's 1.7 people for every person who's infected, and that means exponential growth," Professor Openshaw said.
And the virus is now "starting to appear in more vulnerable," he said – adding: "That, inevitably, is going to be followed by hospital admissions and deaths."
Drinkers have been pictured out on the town this weekend ahead of the new 'rule of six', which comes into force tomorrow.
Prof Openshaw said: "We need to act quickly.
"This isn't a game.
"We shouldn't out trying to party as hard as we can in the run-up to Monday's lockdown.
"We should all be thinking about what we can do now to slow down the spread."
The academic, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) – which advises the Government on the threat posed by new and emerging respiratory viruses – says the UK must act quickly after "seeing a really sharp rise in cases".
"It's so much harder to get this sort of thing under control if you delay even by a few days," he said.
"It's going to cause pain and suffering for all to go back to some degree of lockdown, but if we don't do this now, we're going to be right back in hard lockdown in short order."
Another 3,497 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the highest Saturday rise since May.
Boris Johnson this week announced plans to spend £100BILLION on Operation Moonshot, which could see every Brit in the UK getting a test.
It's understood the PM is also considering new proposals that will see those who flout self-isolation advice hit with fines – while people can shop those who don't comply via a new 'quarantine hotline'.
Millions of Brits could also be told to isolate again after a surge in cases.
Matt Hancock says the rise – which he claims is fuelled by young Brits – justifies the strict new rule of six.
The Health Secretary said: "The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play."
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