Britain has continued to experience spike in confirmed cases of coronavirus that could lead to 7.9 million people hospitalized, a secret Public Health England (PHE) briefing for senior NHS officials reveals.
This is the first time health chiefs tackling the virus have admitted that they expect it to circulate for another 12 months and lead to huge extra strain on an already overstretched National Health Service (NHS).
The document, seen by The Guardian, also suggests that health chiefs are braced for as many as 80% of Britons becoming infected with the coronavirus over that time.
Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, has previously described that figure as the worst-case scenario and suggested that the real number would turn out to be less than that. However, the briefing makes clear that four in five of the population “are expected” to contract the virus.
The document says that: “As many as 80% of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15% (7.9 million people) may require hospitalization.”
The briefing sets out the latest official thinking about how severely the infection could affect both the public’s health and that of personnel in critical services such as the NHS, police, the fire brigade and transport.
“For the public to hear that it could last for 12 months, people are going to be really upset about that and pretty worried about that”, said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.
“A year is entirely plausible. But that figure isn’t well appreciated or understood,” added Hunter, an expert in epidemiology.
“I think it will dip in the summer, towards the end of June, and come back in November, in the way that usual seasonal flu does. I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up,” he added.
The admission that the virus will continue to cause problems for another year appears to undermine hopes that the arrival of warmer weather this summer would kill it.
A senior NHS figure involved in preparing for the growing “surge” in patients whose lives are being put at risk by Covid-19 said an 80% infection rate could lead to more than half a million people dying, The Guardian reports.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK reached 1,372 on Saturday and 35 deaths so far.
Confirmed case numbers for the UK are lower than other European countries, such as Italy, for example, where there have been more than 21,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths, according to 15 March figures from the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has quit Buckingham Palace over coronavirus sweeping through the UK and entire Europe like wildfire.
Her Majesty, 93, was whisked to Windsor Castle after Cobra crisis talks. There are plans to quarantine her and Prince Philip, 98, at Sandringham if the outbreak worsens. Read on through this link