AUTHORITIES must stop "demonising" people if they are to encourage compliance with coronavirus rules, a leading academic has warned.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) also said the idea that house parties were causing a spread in infection was inaccurate.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, he told MPs that just 2 per cent of Police Scotland call-outs about breaches of gathering rules had been to house parties, while the majority were for minor infractions.

The Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrews said: "Let me just give you some figures I got from a meeting with the Scottish police a week or so ago, that they've been called to 430 house gatherings, of which 13 - less than 2 per cent - have had more than 15 people - the mythical house parties."

Prof Reicher said the "vast majority were people slightly bending the rules, having one or two more people round."

He said it showed that the rhetoric around the causes of coronavirus spread and transmission had to change, and authorities had to stop pointing the blame at certain groups of people or scenarios in order to get people to follow the rules.

It comes after a study by King's College London, published last month, found that around 23 per cent of Scots who had coronavirus symptoms were self isolating, and around 11 per cent were doing so after being told they had been in close contact with someone who had the virus.

Prof Reicher explained: "When the police knocked on the door they would reply 'Why are you knocking on our door? We're not having a party'.

“They didn't think it was self-relevant. The danger is if you constitute this demonic 'other' who is doing things wrong, people think its not relevant to [them].

"It's the cumulation of small violations rather than one or two large violations which is causing all the problems. The way in which the pandemic is being represented, the way in which we're making sense of why it's happening, the blame and demonisation [must be] absolutely reset."

He added that it was difficult to influence the public if they "see you as an out-group", explaining: "If the government blamed people and set them up as the out-group they will lose influence, and compliance. "We need to completely change the relationship between government and public and support people and see them as the solution rather than blame people and see them as the problem.”

Also joining the session was Professor Devi Sridhar, global public health expert who advises the Scottish Government.

She suggested one of the keys to stopping the spread of coronavirus may be to build separate isolation facilities, explaining that the countries which have been most successful at getting people to quarantine have purpose-built facilities to break the chain of transmission.

According to the adviser and chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh another common theme among the most successful countries for quarantine has been offering substantial financial incentives.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, Prof Sridhar explained:" “If we look at countries that have managed to get isolation going, they have offered financial support, very good financial support to people, almost equal to what they were getting in their usual jobs, theoretically paying people to stay home."

She added: "They've given people the option to isolate outside their homes. That's not forcibly removing people, it's saying to people 'If you don't want to go back to your flatmates and expose them, or other family members, this is a quarantine facility you can go and stay in. You will be medically supported during that time, with someone who will check in with you every day and if you feel really unwell, we'll will take you to a hospital from there.'"

The adviser said western countries have made a mistake by "assuming that once one person at a household or in a family gets infected, that all of them will get infected."

She explained that it was essential to try and break the chain of transmission in order to control the virus, by using methods such as the quarantine facilities.

She added: "You get an amplification effect which we're already at seeing universities when you have bubbles of 11 students living together. If one is positive, all are kind of considered to be positive, whereas in, [for example] South Korea, they will take you out of your home into a quarantine facility and try to break that chain even within the household so you don't get that amplification effect.”