Frontline medics warned the NHS was “on its knees” yesterday as daily coronavirus cases hit a record 58,784. A further 407 virus deaths were reported across the UK and health chiefs had called for tough restrictions like those introduced yesterday. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospitals were “filling up with Covid patients at a deeply alarming rate”. He said: “It’s clear we have reached a critical point where immediate and decisive action is now needed to stem the rapidly rising rate of infections, hospital admissions and deaths.”
Mr Hopson said the new, faster-spreading variant had “changed the rules of the game” and restrictions must be tightened to prevent large numbers of unnecessary deaths.
The latest data shows there were 26,600 Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England as of 8am yesterday – an increase of 50 percent since Christmas Day when there were 17,700.
Mr Hopson said: “Today’s figures show that, in the 10 days since Christmas, we’ve seen nearly 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds. That’s equivalent to 18 hospitals full of new Covid patients in just 10 days.
“Any changes must therefore have a significant impact as quickly as possible. Half measures at this point would be very dangerous.”
Mr Hopson added that the UK needed to see a repeat of the success last spring, when people meticulously followed lockdown rules and transmission rates plummeted.
“This genuinely is one more, time-limited push to get through the next few months.”
Hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 have also reached a record high, NHS England figures show.
A total of 3,145 admissions in England were reported for January 2, passing the previous peak of 3,099 set last April 1.
The number comprises all patients admitted in the previous 24 hours who were known to have Covid-19, plus any patients diagnosed in hospital with Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England, said the continuous rise in cases and deaths “should be a bitter warning for us all”, adding: “We must not forget the basics – the lives of our friends and family depend on it.
Over the weekend, the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a national lockdown “to avert a national disaster”. DAUK vice-chair Dr Jenny Vaughan said: “We do not ask for this lightly, knowing the effects it will have on so many.
“However, the NHS cannot be allowed to buckle and patient safety has to be the top priority. Our frontline healthcare workers too must be protected.”
DAUK president Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden yesterday tweeted a graph showing the alarming rise in daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people. She said: “Cases in the UK almost vertical with the NHS already on its knees. We are in trouble.”