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The UK's top medical experts have revealed that there are now more patients in NHS hospitals in England than there were before the UK went into full national lockdown back on March 23.
The startling statistic was unveiled at a scientific press briefing held at Number 10 Downing Street on Monday morning, ahead of the expected announcement of a new three-tiered lockdown system by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, outlined the three lines of defence that the UK has relied on so far: increase personal hygiene, test and trace programmes and hospital care for the most unwell, which is on the increase.
He pointed out that the UK is following a pattern laid out in France, Spain and other parts of Europe.
Prof Powis admitted: "We now have more patients in hospital with Covid-19 than we did before the government announced restrictions on March the 23rd in the spring [when Britain entered full national lockdown]."
In another word of warning, he added:" In the over 65s and particularly in the over 85s, we are seeing a steep rise in the number of people being admitted to hospital.
"So the claim that without taking further action, the elderly can somehow just be fenced off from further risk, I'm afraid is proving to be wishful thinking."
It was also revealed that the number of Covid patients in intensive care in the north west and north east of England has increased seven-fold in the last four weeks.
The discontinued Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Harrogate and Sunderland are also expected to reopen in the coming weeks, and all NHS hospital staff will now be tested regularly regardless of symptoms.
But in an effort the spread a message of hope, Prof Powis concluded: "The NHS has prepared well for this second wave and has learnt a lot from the first wave. We have new lifesaving treatments such as Dexamethasone, trialled and tested in the NHS, and 14-day survival rates in intensive care have improved from 72% to 85% since the pandemic began."
The news comes as a senior Conservative politician has warned Brits the next phase of coronavirus restrictions will “go on for some time” – and that the country is heading back to where it was in March.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline a three-tier lockdown system this afternoon, October 12, with areas across England labelled medium, high or very high risk.
He will brief the House of Commons at 3.30pm before addressing the nation directly at 6pm, as the UK struggles with a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases.
One senior Tory has warned the nation needs to “brace” for the new rules.
They told Politico: “This is the moment where we enter the next phase.
“It’s going to be really hard to stomach, it’s going to go on for some time, and if people don’t follow the rules then we may have to go further still."
- Boris Johnson
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