One of the country's top scientists and former Government adviser has said that London has had the highest infection rate in the UK, with between 15 to 20% its population infected with Covid-19.

Imperial College London's Professor Neil Ferguson, who used to advise the government before resigning for breaching lockdown rules, said up to a fifth of Londoners have had the virus at some point, making it the "most heavily infected area" in the country.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that further local outbreaks were "inevitable" as we relax lockdown rules, with several areas currently of "clear concern."

His estimates would mean between 1.35 million and 1.8 million people in London have been infected with coronavirus.

This is far higher than the 313,000 total cases across the whole of the UK, although the real figure is known to be far higher due to a lack of testing.

Whilst these statistics make for scary reading, the good news is that London is long past its peak, with Covid-19 infection rates revealed this week to be extremely low compared to the rest of the country.

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In London, Kensington and Chelsea has the highest number of cases per 100,000 people with 7.7, whilst Bexley has the highest in south east London with 4.5.

This compares to 69.4 and 54.7 in Bradford and Barnsley respectively, and a whopping 140 in Leicester.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday (July 1), Professor Ferguson was asked what percentage of the population may have already had the virus.

He said: "The best indication is the most heavily infected area is London where somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent of the population have been infected.

Professor Neil Ferguson did hold a government advisory position, but was forced to resign after he broke Covid-19 lockdown rules to meet up with his married lover.

He allowed the woman to visit him at home during the midst of the outbreak, whilst also telling the public of the need for strict social distancing.

"There may be some residual immunity from other coronaviruses, human coronaviruses, but that's likely not to stop you getting infected but probably to stop you getting severe disease, so I think it would be dangerous to rely on, certainly at this point, herd immunity.

"We will see how things progress in the coming few months."

He said: "It's inevitable we will (have further local outbreaks), we are relaxing lockdown rules and that means that contacts in the population are going up and that's a very variable process.”

Asked about Bradford and Doncaster, he said: "Those are areas, where not as high as Leicester, but they have some of the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 of the population, which is the relevant measure, so they're clearly of concern.”

The epidemiologist also said it was too early to say that the UK's outcome was far worse than almost anywhere else in the world, despite current data.

"Before we make international comparisons, bear in mind we are still very early into this pandemic.

There's a bit of an illusion out there that somehow we are past the worst. In this country we probably have no more than 8 per cent of the population infected but you just need to see what's going on in places like Latin America and the United States and indeed across the world in terms of clusters of transmission and upticks that this is far from over.

"So yes, I think lessons can be learned from what happened in the UK up till now but I would actually prefer to focus on getting the next six months right before looking back in earnest."