Covid hospital admissions to peak in 'next seven to 10 days', Chris Whitty warns

15 January 2021, 18:13

Chris Whitty has said the peak of Covid-19 hospital admission could be in the next 10 days
Chris Whitty has said the peak of Covid-19 hospital admission could be in the next 10 days. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The peak of Covid-19 hospital admissions will be in the next week to 10 days for most of England, Professor Chris Whitty has warned.

England's chief medical officer said "we hope" that the peak of infections "already has happened" in the south-east, east and London, where there was a surge in the Kent variant, but will be later elsewhere.

"The peak of deaths I fear is in the future, the peak of hospitalisations in some parts of the country may be around about now and beginning to come off the very, very top," he said.

Read more: North West's largest hospital could reach 'crisis point' in the next two weeks

"Because people are sticking so well to the guidelines we do think the peaks are coming over the next week to 10 days for most places in terms of new people into hospital."

Ben Kentish questions the PM, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance on the UK's handling of Covid

His comments echoed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's optimistic suggestion that there were "tentative, early signs" pressure may be slightly easing in London's hospitals.

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, he said: "We are seeing some tentative early signs that the pressure may be slightly easing in London now.

Read more: UK records another 1,280 Covid-19 deaths as cases rise by more than 55,000

"But it's far too early to be remotely confident about that and we need to make sure that we keep the discipline and focus of the lockdown."

Patients are being transferred from London to Newcastle as hospitals struggle to cope
Patients are being transferred from London to Newcastle as hospitals struggle to cope. Picture: PA Images

But caution was urged by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance as he stressed that it would only be a "suppressed peak" that would "boil over for sure" if controls are eased.

He said: "This is not the natural peak that's going to come down on its own, it's coming down because of the measures that are in place.

Read more: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday, Boris Johnson announces

"Take the lid off now and it's going to boil over for sure and we're going to end up with a big problem.

"And that's a lesson about making sure it's all cooled down enough before you get to that position.

"So I don't think we should view the point as a natural turning point in the disease, it is a suppressed peak that we need to keep on top of."

PM: All travel corridors will close due to risk of new Covid strains

It comes amid reports that hospital patients are being driven hundreds of miles from London to Newcastle as hospitals in the capital struggle to cope.

NHS trusts in the North of England and the Midlands have been told to open up hundreds of spare intensive care beds to ease the pressure on hospitals in the South East, London and the East of England.

Read more: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday, Boris Johnson announces

Meanwhile, staff at the Royal Blackburn Hospital in Lancashire warned they could face a crisis in the next two weeks due to a lack of beds.

They told LBC the number of patients currently in hospital with Covid-19 is double what it was back in March last year.

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