One of the government’s leading coronavirus advisers is a professor who grew up in Llanidloes.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College in London, is a former Llanidloes High School pupil.

An expert on mathematical modelling to provide data on disease outbreaks, Prof Ferguson has been a key government adviser during the pandemic.

He self-isolated in his London flat in mid-March after suspecting he himself had come down with the virus.

Speaking this week, Prof Ferguson said the best way to tackle the virus is to stay fit.

He said: “It is always better to stay fit and healthy. We need to assess­ our risks from a personal perspective, including getting fit and losing weight.”

Speaking on how long government restrictions on movement will be in place, Prof Ferguson added: “When the lockdown ends will depend on what happens with this epidemic – how quickly case numbers decline.

"There is no point, having gone through this eff­ort, in releasing a lockdown at a point where case numbers are still high and will resurge even faster than we have seen before.

"We want case numbers to get to a low point where we can start substituting other measures for the most intrusive and economically costly aspects of the current lockdown.

“Almost certainly those additional measures will involve massively ramped-up testing, going back to trying to identify contacts of cases and stopping chains of transmission.­

“That can only feasibly be done when we have many fewer cases per day than we have at the moment.”

When asked about the potential final death toll, Prof Ferguson said: “It is very difficult to make predictions at the moment.

“What we have is an exponentially growing curve of infections which we interrupted at a certain time. We can’t say in terms of the infections precisely where we are on that curve, we don’t have the ability right now to measure how many people have been infected.

“That will come with antibody tests, so we are making statistical estimates and we think it could be anywhere up to a little over 20,000.”