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Hospitals ‘stretched to breaking point,’ top doctors warn after England plunged into third lockdown

Ambulances outside the Emergency Department of St Thomas’ Hospital in London ( Ambulances outside the Emergency Department of St Thomas’ Hospital in London / . via . )

The Prime Minister warned the coming weeks would be the « hardest yet » amid surging cases and patient numbers and said the lockdown was expected to last until mid-February.

In his address to the nation, Mr Johnson said: « Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

”In England alone, the number of Covid patients has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000. That number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April. »

He said that across the UK, a record number of people tested positive for coronavirus on December 29 – around 80,000 people.

Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown in England

Mr Johnson said that over the last week the number of deaths was up 20 per cent over the last week and « will sadly rise further ».

Tthe UK’s chief medical officers raised the Covid-19 alert level to five – its highest – meaning « transmission is high or rising exponentially » and « there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed ».

The alert level has not been at level five before.

It indicates a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed within 21 days without urgent action – it does not mean the NHS will be overwhelmed in three weeks, but there is a risk of that happening if no action was taken.

Coronavirus – In pictures

A sign advertising a book titled « How Will We Survive On Earth? » is seen on an underground station platform

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Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province

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Westminster Bridge is deserted in London the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown

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Canadian passengers Chris & Anna Joiner ask for help onboard the MS Zaandam, Holland America Line cruise ship, during the coronavirus outbreak, off the shores of Panama City

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A man crosses a nearly empty 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City

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The London Eye is pictured lit blue in support of the NHS, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

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Boris Johnson addresses the nation on the Coronavirus lockdown

Andrew Parsons

Commuters cope with Coronavirus

Jeremy Selwyn

Milan’s Piazza del Duomo empty

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People in protective clothing walk past rows of beds at a temporary 2,000-bed hospital for COVID-19 coronavirus patients set up by the Iranian army at the international exhibition center in northern Tehran, Iran

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Martina Papponetti, 25, an ICU nurse at the Humanitas Gavazzeni Hospital in Bergamo, Italy poses for a portrait at the end of her shift

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Pope Francis celebrating a daily mass alone in the Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19

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Vysheyshaya Liga – FC Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino v FC Belshina Bobruisk – Torpedo Stadium, Zhodino, Belarus, March 27, 2020 Players in action during the match despite most sport being cancelled around the world as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

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Hanks and Wilson both have coronavirus

Tom Hanks

General view of an emergency makeshift field hospital as it is set up at Pacaembu Stadium for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with a capacity of 200 beds in Sao Paulo, Brazil

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People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres, work from home if possible and avoid all non-essential contacts and travel in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic

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Naomi Campbell catches a flight in a hazmat suit with goggles, a surgical mask and rubber gloves

@naomi

Sophie and Emily Ward pose for a photograph with their hand-drawn picture of rainbows and a message on their window in St Helens, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

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Mia, aged 8, and Jack, aged 5, take part in « PE with Joe » a daily live workout with Joe Wicks on Youtube to help kids stay fit who have to stay indoors due to the Corona virus outbreak.

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Shoppers queue outside a branch of Costco, in Croydon, south London, on the weekend after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs and restaurants across the country to close

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Charing Cross Tube Bakerloo Line very quiet at 8.15am

Jeremy Selwyn

A woman with a plastic box over her head on the London Underground.

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A Racegoer attend Cheltenham Festival on Ladies Day wearing a fashionable face mask

SplashNews.com

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale

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A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

Jeremy Selwyn

A couple kiss in Milano Centrale railway station in Milan on March 8, 2020

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A combination picture shows visitors wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) looking at blooming cherry blossom nd a pigeon walking at an closed cherry blossom viewing spot during the first weekend after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (not pictured) urged Tokyo residents to stay indoors, in a bid to keep the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from spreading

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This combination photo created on March 5, 2020 shows tourists visiting Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province on March 16, 2019 (top) and on March 5, 2020

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

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U.S. President Donald Trump looks at the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package bill as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Vice President Mike Pence stand by during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House

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A satellite image shows an empty South Beach during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Miami,

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General view inside the empty stadium as the two teams line up prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes

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A Sainsbury’s supermarket in Cambridge is among those to sell out of antibacterial hand sanitizer

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Tents and ambulances are set up next to the Princess Cruises Grand Princess cruise as it sits docked in the Port of Oakland on March 09, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Princess Cruises Grand Princess has been held from docking until today as at least 21 people on board have tested positive for COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus

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Medical staff produce traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan

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Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing protective gear walks at a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Moscow

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A woman who has recovered from the COVID-19 is disinfected by volunteers as she arrives at a hotel for a 14-day quarantine

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Passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship are seen as the ship arrives at Daikoku Pier where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were diagnosed with coronavirus

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Dave Abel pictured in hospital in Japan

Manchester United fans in the stands during the Premier League match at Old Trafford

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Police officers wearing masks stand in front of the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife

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Carnival revellers wear protective face masks at Venice Carnival

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A general view is pictured of Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire after the closure of the school as a pupil’s parent has tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19

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People wearing face masks walk past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Game

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People leave Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre in Milton Keynes where Coronavirus evacuees are due to be released from quarantine today and allowed to go home

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Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

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A woman wears a mask while crossing London Bridg

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A general view of Worthing Hospital in West Sussex

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Passengers relax on board the Holland America-operated Westerdam cruise ship, which has been denied permission to dock in Thailand over coronavirus fears

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A child waves as she sits in a vehicle carrying residents evacuated from a public housing building, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, outside Hong Mei House, at Cheung Hong Estate in Hong Kong

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A woman wearing a Minnie Mouse face mask looks at her mobile phone in Beijing on February 11, 2020

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The Costa Smeralda cruise ship of Costa Crociere, carrying around 6,000 passengers, is docked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia after a health alert due to a Chinese couple and a possible link to coronavirus on board, in Civitavecchia, Italy

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A patient covered with a bed sheet at an exhibition centre converted into a hospital as it starts to accept patients displaying mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan

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A medical official takes the body temperature of a man at the departure hall of the airport in Changsha, Hunan Province, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, China

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The view of the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center

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A plane carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire

A police vehicle enters the gates of the Royal Air Force station RAF Brize Norton in Carterton

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Passengers wear face masks as the push their luggage after arriving from a flight at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport

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French citizens arrive and settle aboard of an evacuation plane with destination southeastern France, before departure from Wuhan Airport (WUH), China

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Police stand at a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge that crosses from Hubei province in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China

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A member of staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside prepares for a bus carrying British nationals from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China

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Doctor Paul McKay, who is working on an vaccine for the 2019-nCoV strain of the novel coronavirus, poses for a photograph with bacteria containing fragments of coronavirus DNA, at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) in Londo

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Workers produce masks at the Thai Hospital Product Company Ltd. factory in Bangkok

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Passengers wearing face masks are seen on a bus after disembarking from the Costa Smeralda cruise ship, after tests on a woman from Macau with suspected coronavirus came back negative, in Civitavecchia, Italy

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People hoard bottles of alcohol after the Philippine government confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus in the country, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Taking precautions: with fears growing that the coronavirus will spread from China, a health official checks a woman’s temperature on the underground in Beijing

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An empty road is seen in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 27, 2020, amid a deadly virus outbreak which began in the city

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Students wearing masks meditate prior to a lesson at a high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Medical staff at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital wear protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus

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Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China

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Workers driving excavators at the construction site of a field hospital In Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The builders will complete the 1,000-bed hospital by February 3 to cope with the surge of 2019-nCoV patients in the city

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Buddhist monks wear masks as they walk near Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodi

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A woman and a child wearing protective masks walk toward check-in counters at Daxing international airport in Beijing

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An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea

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A policeman wearing a mask walks past a quarantine notice about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan

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Paramilitary police wear face masks as they stand guard at Tiananmen Gate adjacent to Tiananmen Square in Beijing

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The resident wear masks to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan

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Staff sell masks at a Yifeng Pharmacy in Wuhan

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Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV

AP

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: « It’s clear that we need a major intervention to bring down the spread of this virus, especially the new more aggressive variant, given that the NHS in on the brink – currently facing exponential demand for care beyond what can be supplied in many places.

« Hospitals are stretched to breaking point, with doctors reporting unbearable workloads as they take on more Covid-19 admissions alongside the growing backlog of people who need other, non-Covid care.

« Doctors are desperate, with some even comparing their working environment to a warzone as wards overflow, waiting lists grow, and ambulances queue outside hospitals because there are now so many people with Covid-19.

« As a result, the NHS is currently facing a perfect storm of immense workload and staff burnout and more cases expected as we see the impact of Christmas on infection rates.

« The vaccination of healthcare workers needs to be significantly sped up so that health and care staff across the country are prioritised to receive both the first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to help keep them free of the virus, so they can continue to provide the care so vitally needed by so many. »

Related

Data provided by Number 10 show that there are currently 26,626 Covid patients in hospital in England – a rise of 30 per cent compared to the same day one week before – so a 30 per cent increase in a single week.

The peak of admissions in the first wave of Coronavirus was 18,974 on April 12, 2020.

Across the UK there were 80,664 positive tests in a single day on December 29. And further 65,571 on December 30.

And the latest case rate in England was 518 per 100,000 – three times the level at the start of December when it was 151.3 per 100,000.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said patients were being admitted to hospital at an « alarming rate ».

« The announcement this evening is the only option to save lives, reduce patient harm and ensure the NHS can safely provide all patients with the care they need, » he said.

« Trust leaders are well aware that there is a cost and an impact of tighter restrictions, but they need these measures in place to stem the rapidly rising rate of infections, hospital admissions and deaths.

« Today has seen another steep rise in the number of Covid cases and the number of patients being admitted to hospital is also rising at an alarming rate.

« There are almost 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds – the equivalent of nearly 18 hospitals – than there was on Christmas Day, just 10 days ago. We know that number is going to continue to rise over the next few weeks.

« The lockdown announcement will help, but only if everyone follows the rules.

« As the prime minister indicated, the roll out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does mean there is an end in sight and the NHS is working tirelessly to deliver the largest ever vaccination programme in history.

« But, for now, the NHS needs the public to play its part and stay at home. »

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: « With huge pressure being placed on the NHS across the country in this last fortnight, and with the NHS’s capacity being confirmed as being at risk of becoming overwhelmed within the next 21 days, there was no option other than to take these drastic steps.

« The public must help the NHS by following the requirements of social distancing to the letter: the virus is not under control and the standards upon which the NHS prides itself are already being weakened and compromised.

« The Government must only relax these restrictions when it is absolutely safe to do so. »

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