A leading expert in infectious diseases has admitted he was surprised to learn of the prime minister's plans to lift all Covid restrictions early, warning "we're not out of the woods yet".

Prime minister Boris Johnson said that laws requiring people to self-isolate after a positive Covid test could be lifted as early as this month.

During PMQs on Wednesday, he said: "It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.

"Provided the current encouraging trends in data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions - including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you rest positive - a full month early."

The current restrictions, dubbed 'Plan A' had been due to expire on March 24.

The announcement this week came as a surprise to many, including Paul Hunter, an expert in viral illnesses from the University of East Anglia's school of medicine.

And he warned that if the planned easing does go ahead early, people will need to step up to make sure those in clinically vulnerable groups still get protection from the virus.

Prof Hunter said: "I was quite surprised to hear the prime minister's announcement. I'm not convinced that anybody was expecting it and I do not know what evidence base was used to make the decision.

"We are getting to the where the balance between the benefits and costs of restrictions are much closer, but equally I would personally like to see restrictions remain until at least the end of March."

Following a peak rate of 1,766 cases per 100,00 people, Norfolk has seen a gradual decline in infection. Most recent figures show a county infection rate of 969 cases (per 100,000 people)

Bur Prof Hunter warned the pandemic is far from over.

He said: "We are not out of the woods yet and once restrictions are lifted the most vulnerable people will still need a degree of protection.

"We can all help with that by doing things like continuing to wear face covering in crowded indoor areas and thinking carefully about how we look out for vulnerable people."