UK coronavirus cases 'reaching the peak' but deaths may continue to rise

15 April 2020, 19:06

Professor Chris Whitty said the UK was reaching the peak of cases
Professor Chris Whitty said the UK was reaching the peak of cases. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The number of UK coronavirus cases is "reaching the peak" but deaths may continue to rise, the chief medical officer has said.

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus press conference, Professor Chris Whitty said he believes the UK is "probably" reaching the peak of the epidemic.

However, he also warned that the high number of Covid-19 deaths "will continue for a short while" and could "bounce tomorrow" following a four-day weekend over the Easter period.

Read more: Coronavirus victims can have loved ones at their side in their final moments

"We do all think that this has flattened out (but) sadly we do think that high numbers of deaths will continue for a short while on from where we are at the moment," Prof Whitty said.

He added: "At the moment we are not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely this is now past the peak and we can start thinking very much about the next phases."

But the Professor was quick to clarify that reaching the peak was not the same as passing the peak.

The medical expert justified his prediction of a bounce-back, explaining how there have been dips in the number of deaths reported every weekend and the following two days, but then a rise "as we catch up the numbers."

"And after a long, four-day weekend, there may well be a bounce tomorrow," he continued.

His words echo the statement made by NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis on Tuesday, in which he said the number of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions are "stabilising and plateauing."

Prof Whitty then went on to suggest that hospital stays are kept "as short as is medically possible."

"Staying in hospital is not, for most people, a particularly pleasant experience and it is also an area where you are actually more likely to catch infections and other issues than you are in any other setting.

"And it is sensible for older and indeed all patients to keep hospital stays as short as is medically, or from a nursing point of view, sensible."

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people dying with coronavirus in care homes will be able to have loved ones at their side.

New government guidelines will ensure Covid-19 victims in care homes will be able to have family members by their side in their final moments "wherever possible."

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