NHS England orders hospitals to free up all available beds for a surge in coronavirus cases which could last until March
Any suggestion that the government placing London in Tier 4 restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus was too little and too late will highlight the number of positive cases recorded in Croydon over Christmas.
Official figures show nearly 1,500 new cases were reported just in Croydon in just three days.
With Croydon’s Mayday Hospital already stretched with more than 100 covid-19 patients before the weekend, there’s well-informed fears that the number of people infected with the deadly virus will continue to rise into the New Year, following the government’s brief relaxation of its quarantine rules for Christmas Day.
And there’s justifiable anxiety among government and health officials that unless the public observe very strict lockdown measures over New Year, the infection rate and death toll will continue to soar.
According to latest official figures, more than 70,000 people have died in the UK due to covid-19 this year. Another 316 deaths were reported on Sunday, as nationally there were more than 30,000 positive cases recorded yesterday.
Figures show that the number of people in hospital as a result of covid-19 across the country is approaching the peak reached during the first outbreak in March.
In Croydon, there were 489 cases reported on Christmas Day, 521 cases on Saturday, December 26, and a further 473 cases reported yesterday, Sunday December 27. These figures may understate the true number of cases: in regular working weeks, there has tended to be a timelag in reporting cases over weekends.
The London Ambulance Service said Boxing Day was one of its “busiest ever days”, with 7,918 calls – up by more than 2,500 compared with the same day in 2019. It said it was now taking up to 8,000 999 calls a day, compared to 5,500 on a typical “busy” day.
Just before the bank holiday, NHS England issued orders to all hospitals to free up every possible bed for the growing number of covid patients, placing the entire health service on its highest state of alert, probably at least until the end of March because of the ongoing influx of very sick patients, exacerbated by the new strain of coronavirus.
In a six-page letter sent to NHS care providers on December 23, health service chiefs said: “With covid-19 inpatient numbers rising in almost all parts of the country, and the new risk presented by the variant strain of the virus, you should continue to plan on the basis that we will remain in a level four incident for at least the rest of this financial year and NHS trusts should continue to safely mobilise all of the available surge capacity over the coming weeks.”
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