Coronavirus intensive care units are at breaking point as wards fill up


A rare glimpse inside the coronavirus frontline at NHS hospitals has revealed intensive care units at breaking point as wards fill up.

Boris Johnson on Monday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has ‘quadrupled in the last three weeks’ with today’s daily case total standing at 13,972 – up 11 per cent on last Monday.

Perhaps even more concerning is that in the last two weeks alone, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has shot up by 40 per cent.

There are now 3,665 hospital admissions in the UK – more than there were when lockdown measures kicked in on March 23

Critical care consultant at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital Dr Jason Cupitt said he is ‘tired and worried’ as he and all his collegues brace to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’.

Critical care consultant at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital Dr Jason Cupitt said he is ‘tired and worried’ as he and all his collegues brace to re-live their coronavirus frontline roles ‘all over again for an indefinite period of time’

Dr Cupitt - who looks after eight patients in intensive care (one pictured - said: 'We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it's probably going to carry on for a long time'

Dr Cupitt – who looks after eight patients in intensive care (one pictured – said: ‘We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it’s probably going to carry on for a long time’

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife were in hospital after catching coronavirus

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife were in hospital after catching coronavirus 

Dr Cupitt – who looks after eight patients in intensive care – told ITV: ‘We are very worried about where this is going to go and the fact that it’s probably going to carry on for a long time.’ 

He and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff – especially when the patient is moments from death.

Intensive care patient William Murray said both he and his wife are now in hospital after catching coronavirus.

His diagnoses came even though he ‘stayed in for 12 weeks’ in isolation.

Mr Murray said: ‘Everything was going right, couldn’t do any more than what we did.’

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she’d ‘been really careful’ and was ‘isolating for months’.

Mr Johnson has unveiled his new Tier Three lockdown measures and announced Liverpool will be the first to go into the ‘very high risk’ category – meaning pubs are shut and households banned from mixing indoors or in gardens.

But Britain’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned that the measures do not go far enough and local leaders would need to impose their own restrictions to bring down the infection rate.

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she'd 'been really careful' and was 'isolating for months'

Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. Another patient Brenda also had no idea how she came down with the bug. She said she’d ‘been really careful’ and was ‘isolating for months’

Dr Cupitt (pictured) and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff - especially when the patient is moments from death

Dr Cupitt (pictured) and other medics spoke about the added challenge of not allowing hospital visitors to staff – especially when the patient is moments from death

Boris Johnson on Monday warned that the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has ‘quadrupled in the last three weeks’ with today’s daily case total standing at 13,972 – up 11 per cent on last Monday. Pictured: The PM during his Downing Street Press briefing today

How England breaks down in new COVID tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

Professor Whitty said he was ‘not confident’ the new measures would stem the tide, as the UK racked up another 13,972 Covid cases today.

Liverpool’s case rate per 100,000 population has risen by 14.3 per cent over the past week to 609.

Prof Whitty said: ‘We’re going to have to do more, that’s the whole point of what the Prime Minister has just announced, and probably in some areas significantly more.’

He added: ‘The idea that we can do this without causing harm is an illusion. It is a balancing act between two harms: a harm for society and the economy on the one hand and a harm for health on the other hand.’

Mr Johnson, addressing the nation alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prof Whitty, said the options were to ‘let the virus rip’ or ‘shatter’ the economy.

A vast swathe of the country including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the North East are facing Tier Two curbs which crackdown on socialising between households and a total of 22 million in England are expected to be covered by the top two tiers after Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said that the rising figures in these areas were ‘flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet and we must act now,’ but he ruled out the ‘extreme route’ of a complete national lockdown ‘right now.’

Meanwhile, official data has revealed that England’s second wave of coronavirus is extending south of the worst-affected areas in the North of the country and infections are spreading out of young age groups to the at-risk older generations. 

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, presented data showing that hospitals in Liverpool now have the highest levels of coronavirus admissions in the country – and that there are now more patients in hospital in England than at the start of the March lockdown.

Hospital admissions and deaths, the deputy chief medical officer said, are rising now based on a surge in cases that happened weeks ago. The even higher numbers of people being diagnosed in the past week will later lead to even more going into hospital in the coming weeks. 

Nightingale hospitals in the worst affected areas are being put on high readiness to reopen.  

Mr Van-Tam – along with NHS medical director Stephen Powis – told a briefing that temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Prof Powis said there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.

More than 17million people are covered by the two higher risk tiers in the government’s new system, with the rest of England under the Rule of Six and 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants

He said: ‘To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms.

‘This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.

‘Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.

‘They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.’

It will be for local clinicians to decide whether they are used for Covid patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without coronavirus.

Prof Van-Tam warned that extra deaths were already ‘baked in’ due to the rise in cases and the lag between infections and people becoming seriously ill. 

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