- Experts said more people on public transport will likely increase
- Mobility data shows transit use begins to grow rapidly amid fuel shortages
- SAGE had previously warned that sudden noise for public transport could cause a spike.
Britain’s petrol crisis could escalate Covid cases if passengers go back to buses and trains, experts said today amid fears the country is on the verge of a fourth wave.
Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, claimed the spike could ‘definitely’ result from a fuel shortage. Other scientists said it was ‘plausible’.
Hundreds of courtyards across the country have already been dried up by panic-stricken buyers, who are believed to have suddenly turned into a ruckus for public transport.
Shocking footage showed drivers throwing punches and even brandishing knives during chaotic scenes at petrol stations on Monday.
Doctors and nurses have demanded that they be given priority for fuel, saying they should be able to go to hospitals to treat patients.
Professor Hunter told MailOnline: ‘The move to public transport could certainly increase transmission. And, if most people are not wearing face coverings, it will make the transmission worse.’
SAGE previously warned that it could spark a new wave if passenger levels suddenly return to pre-pandemic levels.
Covid cases in England and Wales are currently on an upward trend, with scientists believing it is the result of millions of children returning to school in early September.
Scotland faced a huge surge in infections after classes reopened in mid-August. And although the increasing infections were previously concentrated in children, official figures now suggest they are beginning to spread to their parents.
Hundreds of courthouses across the country have already battled droughts and garages amid queues in the early hours (Picture: Petrol station in Clapham, London)
Drivers line up for fuel at petrol stations (Picture: Wisley South Services in Surrey today. The local council is considering declaring a state of emergency)
Are Britons turning to public transport? The graph above shows the weekly percentage change in the number of people in cars, transit or pedestrians each Friday since mid-July compared to the previous Friday. This shows that there has been an increase in the number of transit and pedestrians amid the petrol crisis. Increase in the number of drivers
Nearly two-thirds of Britons do not wear face masks on public transport, survey figures from the Office for National Statistics show
Experts have always warned that Britain is likely to be hit by a fourth wave later this year, similar to the spike in cases last September when schools went back.
Public transport can be a hotbed for the virus due to the lack of social distancing and ventilation.
Professor Jonathan Stoy, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute, claimed it was ‘plausible’ that the fuel crisis could spark more COVID cases.
But he also stressed that any effect is likely to be ‘relatively minor’. This is likely due to vaccinations and back-to-work drives.
Professor Stoy told MailOnline: ‘Definite attribution to fuel conditions will be particularly difficult, as is likely, in the near future, supplies will begin to flow more freely.
How can I legally carry fuel to and from a petrol station – and can I store it at home?
A motorist refuels his vehicle with a jerry can at a petrol station in London
What containers can I use to store petrol?
The law allows you to store petrol in the following containers:
- Plastic containers storing up to 10 liters
- Metal containers store up to 20 liters
- Detachable fuel tank up to 30 liters
Suitable portable containers are defined as ‘strong’, ‘will not degrade significantly due to exposure to petrol’ and must be marked with the words ‘petrol’ and ‘highly flammable’. If it is plastic it should be made of molded polyethylene.
Does the total amount of petrol I can store in my car’s fuel tank count?
No – Petrol in your vehicle’s fuel tank including boats and planes does not count when calculating the total amount you are accumulating.
How much petrol can I deposit in a vehicle?
You can store up to 30 liters of petrol in 2 suitable containers in your vehicle.
How to store fuel at home?
The health and safety executive says you can legally store 30 liters of petrol in your home, but there are strict guidelines on how and where to store it, as the fuel is highly flammable.
It should be placed in:
a) in a shed
b) in a garage
c) not more than six meters away from your home – that is, at the end of the drive.
But AA officials advise people that they ‘shouldn’t even consider storing it’.
‘Hopefully most people will continue to show common sense about wearing masks in crowded or confined spaces.’
Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, also said it was ‘plausible’ that more people taking public transport could accelerate the spread of Covid cases.
Britain’s fuel crisis showed no sign of abating today as drivers waited in queues overnight to get petrol.
Tensions escalated at a London forecourt with a motorist who appeared to be a knife to a fellow drive-by.
And so is the panic at the pumps, hundreds more people than usual are filling up with the wrong fuel.
About 250 panicked drivers were rescued by AA’s specialist team on Saturday and Sunday – compared to about 20 under normal circumstances.
A tanker driver told LBC News that they were also struggling for fuel because they were spending so much time in the queue that the drivers were also blocking access to the HGV pumps.
Boris Johnson has been urged to stop ‘hiding’ and address the nation on the crisis, as Tony Blair…