February 8, 2021, 3:39 pm | Updated: February 8, 2021, 3:40 p.m.

The government is “playing” by leaving the borders open, a leading public health expert told James O’Brien as 147 cases of the South African variant of Covid are recorded in the UK.

Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of the Department of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, made the remark amid reports that there are ministers pushing for the temporary closure of all UK borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The debate over how the government should deal with the UK’s borders has come to the fore after the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa rose to 147 in England.

Professor Devi said, “You are playing now, leaving the borders open. And if you play with the virus, you will lose.”

The professor revealed how she would tackle the Covid crisis in the future, saying she would “improve our testing and traceability system” and make sure people are paid to self-isolate.

She then said that if she was in charge, she would “manage the quarantine for anyone who arrives” and also “push the vaccine”.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has urged the UK public to continue believing in the Oxford / AstraZeneca push amid concerns about its effectiveness against the South African variant of coronavirus.

One study found that it may not be able to prevent mild or moderate illness caused by the South African strain of coronavirus.

South Africa has stopped using the vaccine and scientists say people here may need a booster jab by fall.

This weekend, the UK reached a total of 112,465 Covid deaths – one of the highest in the world.

However, the number is the lowest since late December and follows a sharp decline in the number of people infected and hospitalized.

Continue reading: Covid-19 “doesn’t care about your immigration status,” Health Minister told LBC