Dr Hilary Jones has predicted there will be a fresh spike in coronavirus cases this week after thousands descended on central London for vigils and protests following the death of Sarah Everard.
Large groups gathered at a memorial for Ms Everard on Clapham Common on Saturday, after the 33-year-old’s body was found last week. The marketing executive went missing earlier in March and police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged with her murder.
After the vigil resulted in chaos with police officers making arrests, mourners have protested the streets of London including an event in Westminster on Monday night.
Reacting to the gatherings, Dr Hilary said on Good Morning Britain: ‘We have to balance people’s individual rights with what’s best for society as a whole and we’ve had waves of this pandemic. Two and a half million people have died so far and there will be a lot more to come.
‘Most people are still not protected against Covid-19 and unless we want more waves, we have to keep our rate down.’
Predicting a flood of new coronavirus cases, the GP said: ‘A lot of people are saying there will be a third wave… mass protests, that is a superspreading event. There’s no way of avoiding that. All those people are wearing masks – most of them are – but masks alone don’t protect us against Covid and we will see another wave.’
Ben Shephard pointed out that Dr Hilary recently said there hadn’t been a spike after protests, but he countered: ‘Not yet, it’s too early. It’s going to take two or three weeks to see a spike as a result of the mass gathering.
‘To my way of thinking, and this is as a doctor talking now, if you have a mass gathering for any cause – and I know how important the Sarah Everard protests [are] – however, when you get a lot of people together, you are going to spread Covid-19. You’re going to get deaths as a result down the line.’
Susanna Reid asked if the protests being held outside would halt the spread of the virus, Dr Hilary explained: ‘It’s less, we said that before Cheltenham. Cheltenham was a case in point… that was a superspreading event and this is no different. They’re outside too.
‘We have to be really careful, when people get together for whatever cause, however strongly they feel, it is putting lives at risk down the line.’
He added: ‘I’m all for peaceful with a cause as important as this but there must be creativity in [safety measures].’
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.