UK coronavirus crisis ‘to last until spring 2021 and could see 7.9m hospitalised’ #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #pandemic #quarantine #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #pandemic #quarantine
The coronavirus epidemic in the UK will last until next spring and could lead to 7.9 million people being hospitalised, a secret Public Health England (PHE) briefing for senior NHS officials reveals.
The document, seen by the Guardian, is the first time health chiefs tackling the virus have admitted that they expect it to circulate for another 12 months and lead to huge extra strain on an already overstretched NHS.
It also suggests that health chiefs are braced for as many as 80% of Britons becoming infected with the coronavirus over that time.
Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, has previously described that figure as the worst-case scenario and suggested that the real number would turn out to be less than that. However, the briefing makes clear that four in five of the population “are expected” to contract the virus.
The document says that: “As many as 80% of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15% (7.9 million people) may require hospitalisation.”
The briefing sets out the latest official thinking about how severely the infection could affect both the public’s health and that of personnel in critical services such as the NHS, police, the fire brigade and transport.
It has been drawn up in recent days by PHE’s emergency preparedness and response team and approved as accurate by Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s lead official dealing with the outbreak. It has been shared with hospital bosses and senior doctors in the NHS in Engand.
“For the public to hear that it could last for 12 months, people are going to be really upset about that and pretty worried about that”, said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.
“A year is entirely plausible. But that figure isn’t well appreciated or understood,” added Hunter, an expert in epidemiology.
“I think it will dip in the summer, towards the end of June, and come back in November, in the way that usual seasonal flu does. I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up,” he added.
The admission that the virus will continue to cause problems for another year appears to undermine hopes that the arrival of warmer weather this summer would kill it.
The document also discloses that an estimated 500,000 of the 5 million people deemed vital because they work “in essential services and critical infrastructure” will be off sick at any one time during a month-long peak of the epidemic. The 5 million include 1m NHS staff and 1.5 million in social care.
Courtesy of theguardian.com