London, Jan 11: England’s top medical officer, Chris Whitty, said on Monday that the coming weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic will be worst, as the new coronavirus strain continues to spread across the country and more people are getting infected, adding more pressure on the National Health Service.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers and to the NHS,” Whitty told the BBC broadcaster.
He said that in London alone, one in 30 people currently has the coronavirus, while in England in a whole, the figure is one in 50 people.
This is a serious problem and is rising in every part of England, the medical officer said, adding that the first thing is to understand what this new variant means in terms of numbers for the NHS.
“During the peak we had back in April last year we had about 18,000 people in the NHS as of yesterday, we had over 30,000 people in the NHS,” he stressed.
According to Whitty, the only thing people should do now is to follow current lockdown rules and minimize all unnecessary public contact, because the vaccines being roll out, he said, will “take several weeks” to have their effect.
“We’re quite a long way away from that at the moment,” the medical chief said, when asked when restrictions would be lifted.
The UK government is expecting to step up the COVID-19 vaccination campaign with the opening of the first seven large vaccination centers on Monday, as part of its target of immunize 15 million people by the middle of February with the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines.
As of Sunday, the UK had recorded over three million COVID-19 positive cases and 81,431 deaths.