The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in the UK has almost doubled over just about a week, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said in a piece published by the government. With hospital and intensive care admissions on the rise, the nation is now heading into “colder, darker winter months” – an “always difficult period” for the healthcare system – while being right in the middle of a “severe pandemic,” he warned.
The disease, which started quickly spreading once again in recent weeks, primarily among the younger population, is now affecting older age groups, the deputy chief medical specialist of England said, adding that the UK will see a rise in Covid-19-linked deaths in the near future as surely as “night follows day.” The nation already has one of the worst case-to-fatality rates in the world – seven percent.
The problems, however, are not limited to areas in northern England that are now expecting tougher restrictions to be imposed by London. The spread rate in every single NHS region in England is higher than the threshold limit of 1.0, meaning “widespread increases in transmission continues across the country, not just in the north of England,” Van-Tam said, warning that the number of new infections in the UK could very well double in between eight and 16 days.
The nation already broke its record with over 17,000 new Covid-19 cases in just one day on Thursday. The development prompted Health Secretary Matt Hancock to call it a “perilous moment.”
Van-Tam has called on UK citizens to strictly follow the rules imposed by the government to prevent the spring outbreak from repeating itself. He particularly advised people to get a test if they display any symptoms, as well as urging them to wear face coverings and limit social contact.
A study published in September indicates, however, that less than one in five people in the UK who reported Covid-19 symptoms actually self-isolate for the required period of time, even though three-quarters of those who did not display any symptoms declared their intention to do so if needed.
The study also showed that just under 12 percent of people in the UK who developed Covid-19 symptoms requested a test to find out if they actually contracted the disease.
Van-Tam’s appeal comes just one day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to detail a new set of rules the government plans to introduce to stem the spread of the disease. Media reports indicate the new restrictions could involve closure orders for pubs and restaurants in some areas in northern England and the Midlands, as well as a ban on overnight stays. A new three-tier lockdown system could also replace a host of local lockdowns introduced in various parts of the UK.
London has already introduced a set of measures to tackle the pandemic, including the requirement to wear face masks, a call for employers to let their staff work from home whenever possible, limits on the work of various businesses, and the infamous ‘rule of six’ prohibiting social gatherings of more than six people.
The measures have often been met with skepticism, as their opponents say they are ineffective or even exacerbate the situation.
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