Boris Johnson warns no lockdown would mean ‘several thousand’ Covid deaths a day

Boris Johnson warns no lockdown would mean ‘several thousand’ Covid deaths a day
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The UK’s daily coronavirus death rate could reach “several thousand a day” with the NHS overwhelmed, the Prime Minister warned tonight.

Boris Johnson said that without action, deaths would reach “several thousand a day”, with a “peak of mortality” worse than the country saw during the first peak in April.

While the UK’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty told tonight’s Downing Street briefing a Government projection showed the death rate would be 800 by December 8.

The medical chief warned the weekly case rate shows the coronavirus outbreak is spreading steadily.

He said hospitalisations will “exceed the peak that we saw in spring if we do nothing”, as Mr Johnson announced a second national lockdown.

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Boris Johnson speaking tonight to the nation.

Meanwhile the UK government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said Covid-19 deaths in England during winter could be “twice as bad or more than the first wave”. 

“We have a very grim picture of what the next six weeks look like,” he added.

Mr Johnson warned tonight: “Unless we act we could see deaths at several thousand a day.

“Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would live, who would die.

“The sheer weight of Covid demand would deprive non-Covid patients of care.”

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Number of people with Covid-19 in hospital beds
He added: “The over-running of the NHS would be a medical and moral disaster.

“Now is the time for action.

“The risk is NHS will not be there.”

On the way ahead, he said: “I am optimistic this will feel different by spring.

“We have realistic hope of a vaccine next year.”

Professor Whitty said there is an increase in prevalence of Covid-19 cases “in virtually every part of the country”, apart from possibly the North East where stricter measures are in place, and cases are not constrained to one age group.

Sir Patrick Vallance said there was a ‘grim picture’
Discussing NHS bed use in England, he said: “Currently only in the North West is this coming close to the peak that we previously had, but it is increasing in every area.

“And if we do nothing, the inevitable result is these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak that we saw in the spring of this year.”

Mr Johnson added: “I’m afraid no responsible Prime Minister can ignore the message of those figures.

“We know the cost of these restrictions – the impact on jobs and livelihoods, and people’s mental health. No-one wants to be imposing these measures.”

He warned “Christmas is going to different this year” but added that by taking action now he hoped that families could be together.

Weekly Covid-19 hospital admissions by age group
The Prime Minister thanked people who had been “putting up with” local restrictions.

But he warned: “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature… the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day – a peak of mortality, alas, bigger than the one we saw in April.”

Professor Whitty warned the NHS was seeing a rise in hospital admissions in almost all age groups, with the virus moving through the age ranges with a significant rate of increase across the country.

The numbers of people in hospital with Covid-19 now compared with the first wave, with the North West close to the peak.

While the UK’s death rate is still significantly below the peak of the first wave, Professor Whitty warned that the prevalence of coronavirus has been increasing “extremely rapidly” in recent weeks.

The geographical spread of Covid-19 in England
Citing Office for National Statistics data, the chief medical officer for England told the Downing Street press conference: “The prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks, having been very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over spring and summer.

“And we now have around 50,000 new cases a day and that is rising.”

Professor Whitty confirmed the number of people in NHS beds in England will exceed the peak of the first wave without further measures.

The United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from Covid-19, and is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Pressure has been mounting on Mr Johnson for several weeks, although he is understood to have been persuaded by new data on NHS capacity and figures released on Friday from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggesting 580,000 people a week are now contracting the virus.

Heat map for hospitals with over 100 Covid-19 patients on October 30
Rates of coronavirus have been increasing in all parts of England and among all age groups and Government scientific advisers have said only a national lockdown could get on top of the epidemic.

More people could be admitted to hospital over the next six weeks than was seen over the first wave, Sir Patrick Vallance reiterated.

Projections suggest this would be seen “across the country as a whole” with “some hospitals earlier than others, some a bit later”, Sir Patrick warned.

The models suggest “increasing deaths over the next six weeks”, with a figure close to the first wave peak by December 8 “if nothing is done”.