The Government must consider alternatives to the 10-day isolation period in order to avoid creating lockdowns in all but name, a scientist has suggested.
Dr Adam Kucharski, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group, which advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said rising Covid cases could mean a million people or more per day could be forced to quarantine.
It comes after some MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to demand an immediate end to pupils being sent home for 10 days if another in their bubble tests positive for Covid-19.
Some NHS chiefs have also said they are experiencing a shortage of staff as double-vaccinated doctors and nurses are forced to isolate.
Ministers have signalled that they hope to end the quarantine period and replace it with daily testing.
Dr Kucharski told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “If we get to a situation over the summer where there’s 30,000 to 40,000 cases per day, you’ll be potentially looking at maybe even over a million contacts per day who may be eligible for quarantine.
“In situations where you’re quarantining large numbers of people you do end up with similar outcomes to lockdown.”
He said colleagues are investigating whether rapid daily testing over five days may be as effective as longer quarantine periods.
He added: “These measures are reducing transmission considerably and I think if we have an alternative that gives a similar reduction in transmission but less disruption, we do need to seriously consider if that’s going to be a better option.”
Earlier this week, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said school bubbles could be scrapped on July 19 as part of the next step of easing Covid-19 restrictions in England.
Mr Williamson also told MPs he believes pupils “would not be facing” bubble arrangements in September.