COVID crisis laid bare as Britain records highest number of deaths since pandemic began

Boris Johnson praises UK scientists for 'life-saving' treatments

As Britain recorded 1,325 deaths – the most in a day since the pandemic began – the Government issued a stark appeal telling people to act as though “you’ve got the virus”. It came as one expert gave a ­chilling forecast on the impact of the virus in the weeks to come. A Downing Street source said many people were not taking the dire situation as seriously as last March.

The Prime Minister warned hospitals are being overwhelmed.

Boris Johnson said: “Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any other time since the start of the ­pandemic, and infection rates across the entire country continue to soar at an alarming rate.

“The vaccine has given us renewed hope in our fight against the virus but we must not be complacent. The 

NHS is under severe strain and we must take action to protect it, both so our doctors and nurses can continue to save lives and so they can vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as we can.

“I know the last year has taken its toll – but your compliance is now more vital than ever. So once again, I must urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

His message will be hammered home in a publicity blitz fronted by chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

The Government launched the information campaign yesterday using the “act like you’ve got it” theme. The message will run across TV, radio, hoardings and on 
social media.

It will warn that around one in three people with Covid do not have any symptoms and can pass it on without realising.

A member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies ­yesterday outlined the scary scenario Britain is facing.

The insider said: “Even if we vaccinated all over-80s today we would not see a change in the death rates for five weeks or so, and it will not impact on hospitalisation for a long time afterwards.

“It is impossible to overemphasise the seriousness of the current situation.

“We are in a much worse position than we were in March.”

Downing Street underlined its fears the new shutdown message from Boris Johnson on Monday had not struck a chord with the public.

A source said: “Anecdotally, and looking at some of the data, there are concerns that this is being treated like the November lockdown, rather than the March lockdown.”

It comes as a third vaccine, manufactured by US firm Moderna, was approved for use by UK regulators yesterday, bolstering the country’s armoury in the fight against the virus.

But there was also a warning ­yesterday that London’s hospitals are on the brink of being overwhelmed.

The UK recorded its highest number of Covid deaths for a single day at 1,325 yesterday, with the total now at 79,833. Another bleak record was also reached with 68,053 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest figure reported by the Government in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

Professor Whitty said: “Covid-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.

“Once more, we must all stay at home. If it’s essential to go out, remember: wash your hands, cover your face indoors and keep your ­distance from others. Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Official figures show that there were under 500 Covid inpatients in English hospitals on September 1 – but by January 7 the number was 28,246.

NHS hospitals and staff are under huge pressure, with some hospitals in the South-east at extreme capacity, the Government warned.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our NHS is facing a huge challenge.

“It is under immense pressure and it’s imperative now more than ever we all play our part.

“I know how much we have all ­sacrificed already, but the new variant has significantly changed the current landscape and we absolutely cannot let up now. There is light at the end of the tunnel – the vaccine will provide a way out of this and over 1.5 million people across the UK have now been vaccinated.

“Every day we are closer to beating this virus but, right now, we need to pull together for one final push and I’m urging you to continue to do your bit by staying at home to save lives and protect the NHS.”

Around one in 30 Londoners have the virus, according to official estimates.

London mayor Sadiq Khan claimed the figure is as high as one in 20 ­­in some parts of the capital.

Mr Khan declared a “major ­incident” in the capital and warned hospitals are running out of beds.

Firefighters and police are now being drafted in to drive ambulances.

Mr Khan called for places of worship to be closed and for face masks to be worn routinely outside.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who leads the Metropolitan Police response to the Covid pandemic, said: “There can be no doubt that right now we find ourselves at a serious and dangerous crossroads for London. Our health service is nearing breaking point. I know Londoners will be shocked that officers are still dealing with a small selfish minority who think the rules don’t apply to them by holding house parties or other gatherings.

“These are creating breeding grounds for the much more ­transmissible variant.”

Source: Read Full Article