Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has declared a “major incident” in the capital due to rising coronavirus cases threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
City Hall said growing infection rates are “putting immense pressure on an already stretched NHS”, with the number of people on mechanical ventilators up by 42% – from 640 to 908 – in the week up to 6 January.
There are 7,034 people currently in hospital with COVID-19 in London – 35% higher compared to the first peak of the pandemic in Spring.
Severe pressure has also spread to other emergency services.
The London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day now, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day.
Meanwhile, the UK’s reproductive or “R” rate – the average number of people someone with coronavirus passes it on to – has risen slightly, from between 1.1.-1.3 to 1.0-1.4.
It is based on data up to 4 January, but the government cautioned the latest rate “cannot account for the impact of recent policy changes” such as the lockdown in England.
Mr Khan announced he is “declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point”.
He warned: “If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.
“Londoners continue to make huge sacrifices and I am today imploring them to please stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave.
“Stay at home to protect yourself, your family, friends and other Londoners and to protect our NHS.”
More than 800 patients a day are being admitted to London hospitals with COVID-19, the chief executive of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, warned at a Downing Street briefing on Thursday.
“That’s the equivalent of a new St Thomas’ hospital, full of COVID patients every day,” he said.
London and the southeast have seen a significant rise in cases in the last month, blamed by ministers on a new variant discovered in the UK that is up to 70% more transmissible – meaning it is easier to catch.
Courtesy of Sky News
The NHS will move to its highest level of emergency alert from midnight tonight in England.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, announced it would move to “level 4” alert as hospitals see an increase in “desperately” sick patients.
The alert level will move from level 3 – which means coronavirus is in general circulation – to level 4, which means that transmission is high or rising exponentially.
Mr Stevens added: “The facts are clear, we are once again facing a serious situation.
“This is not a situation that anybody wanted to find themselves in, the worst pandemic in a century, but the fact is that the NHS is here.
“The public can help us help you so our fantastic staff – our nurses, our doctors, our paramedics – can get on with looking after you and your family there when you need it.”
On vaccines, Sir Stevens told an NHS press conference: “Our expectation is that it will be the start of next year when the bulk of vaccine becomes available assuming that the Phase 3 trials produce positive results.
“We are obviously planning on the off chance that there is some vaccine available before Christmas.”
Some vaccines need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius he said, adding: “So it’s going to be a combination of what GPs are able to do, what community pharmacists are able to do, but also mass vaccination centres which is one of the purposes we will be using the Nightingale Hospitals for, and other locations as well.
“There will be roving teams who will prioritise care homes and social care staff and other vulnerable groups.
“But the bulk of this is going to be the other side of Christmas but we want to be ready.”
In the press conference from University College Hospital, Mr Stevens said the health service has prepared “very carefully” for the “next phase of coronavirus”.
He said that, for some patients, mortality in hospital and intensive care has “halved since Covid was first known to humanity”.
But he added: “However well-prepared hospitals, the NHS, GP surgeries are, it is going to be a difficult period.”
He said: “We want to try and ensure that the health service is there for everybody, minimising the disruption to the full range of care that we provide, not just Covid but cancer services, routine operations and mental health services.
“And the truth, unfortunately, is that, if coronavirus takes off again, that will disrupt services.
“We are seeing that in parts of the country where hospitals are dealing with more coronavirus patients now than they were in April.”
He added: “The best way we enable the health service to look after all the people who need our care … this, by the way, is what is meant by that slogan ‘Protect the NHS’, what it means, I think, is help us help you by ensuring (we) are able to offer that wider range of care.”
He said that “other lines of defence such as actions individuals are taking to reduce the spread of the virus and the Test and Trace programme” are needed, adding: “The reality is that there is no health service in the world that by itself can cope with coronavirus on the rampage.
“That’s why it is so important that we reduce infections across the country.”
Courtesy of mirror.co.uk
Temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate are being told to get ready to take patients – as Covid-19 cases spike..
NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis told a Downing Street briefing there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.
He said: “To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms.
“This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.
“Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.
“They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary.”
It will be for local clinicians to decide whether they are used for Covid patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without coronavirus.
The news came as medical experts warned that hospital deaths from coronavirus will rise in the coming weeks as cases soared.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam set out the grim data in a Downing Street briefing, which revealed the virus was spreading most rapidly amongst young people.
He said there had been a “marked pick-up” in cases after a “flat” summer – and the lag between cases being identified and patients being admitted to hospital or dying mean hospital deaths will rise in the coming weeks.
“The hospital admissions we have now actually relate to a time when there fewer cases of Covid-19,” he said.
“Already, with the cases that we know about, we have baked in additional hospital admissions and sadly we also have baked in additional deaths that are now consequent upon infections that have already happened.”
Professor van Tam warned at the weekend that the country was once again at a “tipping point” in its fight with the virus.
It comes as Boris Johnson was due to reveal a new “three tier” lockdown system for England, with tougher restrictions for areas with higher rates of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister will set out plans for areas to be labelled as medium, high or very high risk in a statement to MPs, followed by a TV press conference.
Merseyside is expected to be put under the toughest “Tier 3” controls, where pubs and restaurants could be shuttered.
Courtesy of mirror.co.uk
Coronavirus: Two NHS medics on ventilators after contracting COVID-19 from patients #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #Doctors #NHS #pandemic #quarantine
Two NHS ear, nose and throat consultants are receiving critical care after contracting coronavirus from infected UK patients.
The ENT medics are on ventilators and “most likely” acquired the highly contagious respiratory infection from people who did not show any symptoms in the course of their daily clinical work.
Professor Nirmal Kumar, consultant otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon, said the nose was main entry point for the virus when we breathe in droplets infected with coronavirus.
He told Sky News: “We sadly have two consultants (ENT) who are on ventilators in this country and most likely having acquired the infection from passive (asymptomatic) carriers in the course of their daily clinical work.
“We are in strong support of the prime minister’s request for social distancing and also recommend that full PPE (personal protective equipment) is made available for those clinicians dealing with such work and in close contact with patients.”
The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK) said that asymptomatic patients – ones who do not have a fever or a cough – could show a loss of smell or taste as symptoms after contracting coronavirus.
It said in a statement: “Evidence from other countries that the entry point for the coronavirus is often in the eyes, nose and throat areas.
“We have also identified a new symptom (loss of sense of smell and taste) that may mean that people without other symptoms but with just the loss of this sense may have to self-isolate – again to reduce the spread of the virus.”
In the wake of the new symptoms, ENT UK have also requested for full personal protective equipment (PPE) be distributed to frontline staff that examine patients up close.
Professor Kumar added: “At the present time PPE is available only in limited quantities and will be reserved for use only when patients presenting as emergencies show up.”
The organisation recommends that routine clinical work in ENT is avoided until the coronavirus pandemic has passed or until it has sufficient PPE so as to reduce the spread of the virus in the community.
“We need to flatten the curve”, Prof Kumar said.
He added: “In young patients, they do not have any significant symptoms such as the cough and fever, but they may have just the loss of sense of smell and taste, which suggests that these viruses are lodging in the nose.”
Current Public Health England guidelines says that a high temperature or new continuous cough are the only symptoms to trigger self-isolation and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott, clinical lecturer at King’s College London said infections that normally occur through the “nose or the back of the throat” often lead to loss in sense of smell and taste, but cautioned that research around the new symptoms for COVID-19 isn’t yet widespread in the medical community.
Courtesy of Sky News
Coronavirus: 8,000 more hospital beds and 20,000 extra staff join COVID-19 fight to help the NHS #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #NHS #pandemic
Nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff will join the NHS response to coronavirus after a deal with the private sector which will include 8,000 more hospital beds being made available.
Courtesy of Sky News
A healthcare worker at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHSFT) has tested positive for coronavirus #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #Southampton #NHS #quarantine #epidemic
A healthcare worker at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHSFT) has tested positive for coronavirus.
The surgical high dependency unit, where the person worked a single nightshift on Friday, has been temporarily closed to new admissions as a result.
The worker is self-isolating at home.
A statement on the UHSFT’s website said: “The small number of patients and staff who came into close contact with this individual have been informed and will be appropriately isolated.
“The surgical high dependency unit is temporarily closed to new admissions. Any patient affected by the temporary closure will be contacted directly.
“The trust is following Public Health England and NHS guidance in respect of the virus and all other services are operating normally.
“Patients and staff should continue to attend appointments normally and come into work unless advised not to.”
Courtesy of theguardian.com