England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty has warned that the National Health Service could witness the worst of the pandemic coming weeks as a new and more transmissible variant of COVID-19 aggravates an already difficult situation.
The warning comes as hospitals in England struggle to keep up with a surge in coronavirus infections that has seen the number of beds filled by COVID-19 patients’ rise steadily for more than a month.
Hospitals are overflowing and exhausted medical staff are under strain.
“I think everybody accepts that this is the most dangerous time we’ve really had in terms of numbers into the NHS,’’ Whitty told the BBC. He however appealed to the public to strictly follow guidelines meant to prevent the spread of the disease.
It could be recalled that last week, England entered a third national lockdown that closed all nonessential shops, schools, colleges and universities for at least six weeks. But police report many violations of rules that require people to stay home except for essential reasons such as exercise and grocery shopping.
The government hopes the restrictions will reduce the strain on the NHS while it ramps up a nationwide mass vaccination program. Seven large-scale vaccination centers are set to open Monday, joining around 1,000 other sites across the country, including hospitals, general practitioners’ clinics and some drugstores.