The next few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic will be “the worst” in the United Kingdom, in terms of pressure on hospitals, the government’s chief medical adviser has warned.
Professor Chris Whitty’s projection on Monday came as more people are dying with the virus amid a surge in infections, grim tolls that are in part driven by a new highly infectious variant.
Whitty said the National Health Service (NHS) would come under greater pressure than ever, with about one in 50 people now infected across the UK, and as hospitals in parts of the country are pushed to breaking point.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS,” he told the BBC. “This new variant is really pushing things in a way in that the old variant, which was already very bad, wasn’t able to do.”
Whitty urged the public to obey a nationwide lockdown enforced last week to curtail the spread of the virus, the new mutation of which is thought to be up to 70 percent more contagious.
On Friday, Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, warned the UK capital’s hospitals were in danger of being overwhelmed by COVID patients, and ministers and health chiefs have pleaded with people to respect lockdown measures and stay at home unless it was essential to go out.