WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: U.S. President Donal
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump updated the American people about what his administrations whole of government response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
  • The lead author of a report which helped persuade President Trump to take the threat of coronavirus more seriously has now contracted the Covid-19 disease.
  • Professor Neil Ferguson's had warned that if the United States did not introduce strict new measures to curb people's activity and movement, 2.2 million people could die after contracting the virus.
  • Shortly after its publication, the US government introduced sweeping new measures closing schools, encouraging people to work from home, and recommending that mass gatherings should not take place.
  • Professor Neil Ferguson said he was now self-isolating after developing the symptoms of the disease.
  • The professor also met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street earlier this week raising fears it may have spread further inside the UK government
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The lead author of an alarming report credited with helping to persuade President Trump to change course and take the threat of coronavirus more seriously says he is now self-isolating after displaying symptoms of the disease.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College London, said he had developed a cough on Tuesday but "felt fine" before quickly developing a fever during the night.

"Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self-isolated even though I felt fine," he tweeted.

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"Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster."

Ferguson also said he had met Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street earlier this week and admitted there was a "slight" risk he had infected someone there.

Coronavirus is spreading much faster in London than the rest of the UK, and Westminster has 58 cases, the joint highest number of any borough.

"I've been in so many meetings in the last few weeks and a number of my colleagues from other universities who've also been advising [the] government in those meetings, have also developed symptoms," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Ferguson is part of Imperial College London's Covid-19 response team, which has been one of the main organisations advising the international response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The team published a paper on Monday warning that, if the United States did not introduce strict new measures to curb people's activity and movement, 2.2 million people could die after contracting the virus. In the UK, it warned that 250,000 people could die.

On Monday, a day after the White House was sent an advance copy of the report, the US government introduced sweeping new measures closing schools, encouraging people to work from home, and recommending that mass gatherings should not take place.

The New York Times said the new measures "appeared to draw" on Imperial College's report, and Ferguson confirmed that the White House had been sent an advance copy of the report ahead of its publication on Monday. Boris Johnson's government dramatically changed course after seeing the report and adopted more draconian measures which aimed to "suppress" the disease.

"The White House task force received it late Sunday afternoon, CDC yesterday," Ferguson told CNN.

"To be honest, I don't know how much it influenced decision making. But I hear Dr Birx cited it. We will be having a much more detailed discussion with the task force tomorrow morning."

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