THE NUMBER of coronavirus patients in hospitals could hit 25,000 within weeks, one expert has warned.
Cases are rising in most areas in the UK, with some areas such as Nottingham being forced into Tier 3 restrictions as infections climb.
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Professor Sir Mark Walport, the government’s former chief scientific adviser has now claimed that the death toll will continue to increase due to the fact that there are still “very many vulnerable people”.
The UK has had around 917,000 cases of the virus and Sir Walport, who is also a member of the scientific advisory board for emergencies (Sage) highlighted that more deaths could be on the cards as “relatively few people” have had the virus.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof Walport said it is “certainly not unrealistic” to think of 25,000 people being in hospital by the end of November.
He said:”France, which has a very similar population to us, currently has about 16,000 people in hospital, it’s got 2,500 in intensive care beds compared with 852 here, and roughly half the ICU beds in France are occupied. We’re seeing similar things in Spain.
“And these are in spite of these countries taking strong measures as well.
“So the answer is that with our current measures, which are similar but with variations in different parts of Europe, there’s still evidence that it’s not – there isn’t as much social distancing as there were when we clamped down on the first wave and so we know that the risk is significant that cases will continue to grow.”
His warning comes amid fears the second wave of the virus could be more deadly than the first.
A projection by Government scientists suggests the toll could remain high throughout the winter and result in more fatalities than in the spring, which have now topped 61,000, according to further analysis provided by Sage.
Sage analysis also suggests the highest level of restrictions, Tier 3, may be needed across all of England by mid-December putting Christmas plans into chaos.
The Sun has learned that the latest government modelling overseen by chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance shows more than 25,000 will be in hospital with the virus by the end of November — higher than the spring peak.
That is also more than double the 9,199 who were battling the bug in hospital yesterday.
Winter is coming
No10 assumes the death toll this winter is going to be worse than that experienced by the UK in the spring.
At the peak of the pandemic more than 3,000 people a day were being admitted to hospital in the UK.
At present this sits at around 1,150.
Admissions are nowhere near what they were at the peak, and are graduation rising – doubling every two weeks.
To put this in perspective, in normal times around 1,000 people are admitted to hospital a day due to respiratory issues.
On Tuesday, the Government said a further 367 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, while there were another 22,885 lab-confirmed cases of the virus.
The number of deaths is the highest daily figure since May 27, when 422 deaths were reported.
While experts have warned that the whole of the country will have to be in Tier 3 by Christmas to stop the virus taking over, one cabinet minister dismissed that another national lockdown was in the works.
George Eustice told Times Radio that the measures the government is currently taking are “holding the virus back”.
He said the tier system has kept the R rate between 1.4 and 1.5.
Mr Eustice said: “Sage themselves, when they posited that (a circuit-breaker lockdown) as one option, highlighted that it was uncertain how much it would achieve in two weeks and whether it would be enough, and also that there would be lots of negative consequences of such an intervention.”
He added that having a “road map for Christmas is the wrong way of looking at this, when we actually need a road map to address the virus, which is what we’re trying to do”.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, warned the rising death toll from Covid-19 is likely to “continue for some time”.
At present areas such as Liverpool and Manchester are in Tier 3 and there is speculation that West Yorkshire will also be forced into tougher restrictions.
Nottingham and the surrounding boroughs are also set to be placed under tougher restrictions from Thursday.