Doctors fear the NHS could be quickly overwhelmed as hospital admissions surge due to the highly infectious Covid strain raging across the country.
The total number of patients in hospital with the virus is likely to exceed the peak from the first wave, with 21,286 people being treated on December 22, just below the record 21,683 from April 12.
The fears come as millions more Britons face being plunged into Tier 4 this week, with the next tier review on December 30 amid rising infections and hospitalisations.
Doctors in London said their hospitals resembled a ‘war zone’, while Members of the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties warned the mutant strain ‘could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed’, according to The Times.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, responsible for Wales’ largest hospital has called for urgent help, asking for ‘assistance from medical students or other staff groups who have previously supported with proning patients’.
Meanwhile NHS England warned that the entire health service will have to stay on its highest state of alert until at least the end of March due to an ongoing influx of patients, and hospitals have been told to free up every possible bed.
The UK reported 30,501 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with a further 316 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, government statistics showed.
Millions more Britons face being plunged into Tier 4 this week as the mutant Covid-19 strain continues to spread across the country
The UK reported 30,501 new COVID-19 cases today, with a daily toll of 316 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, government statistics showed
Today’s UK covid death figure represents a 3.1 per cent drop in the number of covid-19 deaths reported compared with the same day last week, as last Sunday’s toll was 326.
And due to delays in reporting over Christmas government figures appear to show a 15 per cent fall in the number of new cases reported today, as the number stood at 35,928 last Sunday.
However infections soared by 57 per cent last week and the spread of the new strain is now taking hold further north after first being detected in Kent, reports The Times.
As a result millions more now face being told to ‘stay at home’ when the tiers are reviewed on Wednesday after a loosening of the rules over Christmas.
Health chiefs warned the number of Covid patients in hospital will overtake the first wave peak of 21,683 by the end of the year.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board posted on their Facebook page with an update
Some hospitals have even begun setting up makeshift intensive care beds in paediatric and cancer wards.
Some trusts predict they will have a third or half of all of their beds filled with Covid patients by New Year’s Eve.
The most up-to-date seven-day hospital admission average is 1,984. Hospital admissions are currently at a higher figure than the week before the second lockdown – where there was a seven-day average of 1,191.
One senior government official told the publication that the new strain of Covid had overtaken the old and was ‘running rampant’ in the UK.
It comes as:
- A further six million people in East and South-East England entered tier four yesterday, England’s highest Covid level, which includes a ‘stay at home’ order;
- Ministers privately admitted concern about the ‘theoretical possibility’ that a virulent new South African strain of the virus could render the vaccines less effective;
- Infections linked to the mutant strain previously found in London and the South East were detected in Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, linked to people who had travelled there from the UK;
- It was announced that a new antibody treatment with the potential to give instant immunity after exposure to coronavirus was being trialled by British scientists;
- A Mail on Sunday poll found that 85 per cent of people obeyed Mr Johnson’s tighter Christmas restrictions, and nearly three-quarters said that they agreed with the decision to ban family mixing;
- Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood called on the Government to deploy troops to carry out tests on pupils so that more schools can remain open next month;
The next tier review is on December 30 and infections continue to climb and hospital admissions increase. Pictured are Boxing Day shoppers in Tier 3 Nottingham
It comes as scientists have warned that the whole of England should be put into Tier 4 immediately to stop the spread of the new mutant coronavirus strain.
SAGE have said thousands more people will now be infected in the new year, with one of their experts Dr Zubaida Haque yesterday questioning why the government haven’t placed the whole country under the toughest restrictions to save lives.
She tweeted: ‘Given that we surpassed 70,000 #COVID19 deaths in UK on Christmas Day, and there are now more patients with coronavirus in hospital than at any point in the pandemic, why hasn’t the government implemented #tier4 restrictions everywhere in the UK? @IndependentSage are very worried.
SAGE have said thousands more people will now be infected in the new year, with one of their experts Dr Zubaida Haque, (pictured) yesterday questioning why the government haven’t placed the whole country under toughest restrictions to save lives
‘Given the crisis situation we’re in with the highest number of daily deaths with #COVID19 in 2nd wave, with 1000’s more likely to be infected because of relaxation of rules in tier 1-3 on Christmas Day AND failed govt’s test & trace system, we need #tier4 everywhere now to save lives.’
There were 231 deaths in England today, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 48,542 – within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test- NHS England said on Sunday.
‘One in TEN hospital workers are off sick or isolating’ as coronavirus hits NHS
The NHS is faced with a ‘staffing crisis’ as ‘one in ten workers’ are off sick or isolating while soaring coronavirus cases hit hospitals, a doctor has claimed.
Covid advisor to the British Medical Association, Dr David Strain, has claimed that the shortages mean there are not enough staff to re-open the Nightingale hospitals.
The sickness figure also includes staff who are self-isolating following contact with with people who have tested positive outside of work.
‘The NHS has been running on just about enough doctors and nurses for 10 to 15 years. So with up to 10 per cent of healthcare workers off sick, there are no longer enough,’ Dr Strain, a hospital consultant in Exeter, told the Sunday Mirror.
He explained how the ‘staffing crisis’ poses a threat to derail the NHS in the battle against an increase in Covid-19 cases.
In England the patients were aged between 30 and 103. All except five, aged between 36 and 85, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths were between December 9 and 26.
The mutant strain of coronavirus has sparked fear as the number of cases rise dramatically, especially in London and the Home Counties.
And researchers have now said there is ‘some evidence that the increase may be particularly marked in children’, which raises the question of whether schools should open in January after the Christmas break.
The new variant will lead to a wave of coronavirus cases and deaths that will peak in spring 2021 for London, the South East and east of England, they said.
It comes as millions more people moved into Tier 4 yesterday after those already under the tightest coronavirus restrictions celebrated a Covid Christmas any way they could.
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire moved into Tier 4, created in response to a variant of Covid-19 discovered in the UK, on Saturday.
The parts of Essex still in Tier 2, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton, but with the exception of the New Forest, also moved into the toughest tier.
The additional six million that went into Tier 4 took the total number of people under the toughest restrictions to 24 million – 43 per cent of England’s population. A further 24.8 million moved to Tier 3.
It came after many had to make the most of a Christmas Day already under Tier 4 restrictions in London and the south east.
It comes after today the top boss of Oxford vaccine maker AstraZeneca said researchers have worked out a ‘winning formula’ to boost the jab’s efficacy, with ministers hoping it will bring an end to the cycle of lockdowns within months.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm, says a two-dose method can push the vaccine’s efficacy rate near to that of rivals Pfizer and Moderna.
His comments come as officials reportedly prepare to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab as early as tomorrow.
Visitors look at a light installation in Canary Wharf in London with the capital remaining quiet after new tier changes came into force in England
Boris Johnson vows to focus on ‘levelling-up’ Britain and ‘spreading opportunity’ after securing post-Brexit trade deal with EU
Boris Johnson has promised to focus on ‘levelling up’ Britain in the wake of securing the country’s departure from the EU.
The Prime Minister said he wants to ‘spread opportunity’ as he hopes to take advantage of his new freedoms.
He claims the deal will help him ‘deliver for people who felt left behind’, despite some criticising the agreement he struck at the eleventh hour.
Boris Johnson has promised to focus on ‘levelling up’ Britain in the wake of securing the country’s departure from the EU
Rishi Sunak congratulated Johnson on securing the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU in what he hailed an ‘enormously unifying moment for our country’
Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘This government has a very clear agenda to use this moment to unite and level up and to spread opportunity across the government.’
Hospitals set up makeshift Covid intensive care beds in children’s wards
Health chiefs have warned that hospitals are bracing themselves by setting up makeshift Covid intensive care beds in children’s wards under ‘surge capacity measures’.
Yesterday it was confirmed cases had increased by a third since last Saturday as 34,693 people tested positive in England and Wales alone amid a new highly-infectious strain of coronavirus.
The increase in infections has prompted health bosses to warn that hospital admissions could overtake the highest figure of 21,683 recorded during the first wave.
According to the Sunday Times, hospitals have been ordered to prepare ‘surge capacity’ measures with some trusts setting up makeshift intensive care beds in paediatric and cancer wards.
A senior government official told the Sunday Times the new strain of Covid had overtaken the old and was ‘running rampant’ in the UK.
The warning comes after a leaked memo revealed the imminent pressure facing the NHS.
The six-page memo, which was sent to hospital bosses last Wednesday, confirmed that Covid hospital admissions were ‘rising in almost all parts of the country’ as NHS chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard instructed bosses to prepare.
MPs are due to vote on the deal in the Commons on Wednesday and Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed his party will support the Government in a bid to avoid a no deal scenario.
The Labour leader said it was a ‘thin deal’ that would need more work to secure jobs and industries in the UK.
And Johnson even acknowledged that the deal ‘perhaps does not go as far as we would like’ on financial services.
But he said Britain can now diverge from the EU and go its own way in areas such as animal welfare, data and chemicals.
But Rishi Sunak congratulated the PM on securing the trade deal in what he hailed an ‘enormously unifying moment for our country’.
The Chancellor, who was accused of being ‘absent’ in the run up to Christmas, said the agreement was a good deal for British families, businesses and jobs.
He also addressed concerns over the future of financial services, saying Brexit would offer ‘a chance to do things differently’ in the City of London after no agreement was reached for ‘equivalence’ on selling financial services into the single market.
Speaking from Richmond, Yorkshire, Mr Sunak said: ‘I think this deal represents one of the most comprehensive free trade agreements ever signed and it’s a good deal for British families, businesses and jobs.
‘It gives us a fantastic platform to go forward, maintain tariff-free access to European markets but also capitalise on new opportunities.’
But former Irish PM Leo Varadkar warned that the UK’s access to the European market is ‘not unconditional’ and they must continue to follow some EU rules.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a deal being reached with the EU, Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘It is not the deal that the Government promised – far from it.’
‘A better deal could have been negotiated. But I accept that option has now gone. At a moment of such national significance, it is just not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines.
‘That is why I can say today that when this deal comes before Parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it.’