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Top UK health adviser quits after report of visits from girlfriend during lockdown

Top UK health adviser quits after report of visits from girlfriend during lockdown

Neil Ferguson, a scientist who helped shape Britain's coronavirus lockdown measures, stepped down from the British government's advisory panel Tuesday after violating social distancing guidelines by having his girlfriend visit his home.

"I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic," Ferguson said in a statement, according to The Associated Press, adding that he "made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action."

The Imperial College epidemiologist and his colleagues released an article on March 16 showing that Britain could expect 250,000 deaths related to the virus even with some social distancing measures invoked, prompting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tell citizens to work from home the next day, according to the AP.

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Ferguson became a prominent media figure in the United Kingdom's response to the pandemic, revealing in late March that he had possible symptoms of COVID-19 and that there was a small possibility he could have infected others.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock reportedly called Ferguson "a very eminent and impressive scientist" but said he made "the right decision to resign."

He is the second adviser in Britain who neglected to implement their own guidelines. Catherine Calderwood, former Scottish chief medical officer, resigned last month after she made two trips to her second home.