A ‘FEARFUL’ public combined with a seasonal increase in non-Covid-19 infections in children is leading to ‘utter chaos’, an Oxford health expert has argued.

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine and director at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, challenged the Government’s testing strategy and messaging as he appeared before MPs on Thursday.

Speaking to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, he questioned the usefulness of local lockdowns and argued testing analysis should be focused on identifying people’s viral load to establish who has a higher chance of being infectious.

Professor Heneghan argued people felt ‘terrorised’ by the language used around the virus, while seasonal infections with similar symptoms to coronavirus were increasing.

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He said: “At the moment it is utter chaos because of the 50 per cent increase in other respiratory pathogens that mimic Covid in children.”

He added: “When you go back to school, when you open up businesses and when we come back off our holiday, there is a highly predictable increase in acute respiratory pathogens.

“That leads to a near three-fold increase in admissions for children in emergency admissions in September alone, so it’s important to say you’re acting against the backdrop of what happens in September for all acute respiratory pathogens.”

Despite recent data indicating a rise in recorded Covid-19 cases in England, Professor Heneghan said an impact was not being seen in hospitals and on numbers of deaths, saying: “We are seeing a slight increase, but nothing like what we saw in March and April.”

He argued that increased testing in certain areas was picking up ‘background’ infections making it appear that cases were surging.