A leading UK professor of infectious diseases says hospital admissions could reach up to 2,000-a-day – amid a rapid surge in the number of Omicron cases and fears of an overwhelmed NHS in the new year
Covid hospital admissions could reach 2,000 a day, an expert has warned.
Leading infectious disease scientist, Graham Medley, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Most of the infections at the moment are in young adults, so these are people who are far less likely to need hospital treatment in any case.
“But in the past, in previous waves, we’ve seen that move out into more older and more vulnerable generations and there’s no reason to suspect that won’t happen during this wave.
“And then the numbers of people who end up in hospital is some combination of when people get infected, their vaccination status, as well as what Omicron is doing.”
“I think it is a very real possibility that if the numbers of infections increasing continues in the way that it has done and it spills out into older age groups than we could see the number of people being omitted to hospital getting very large and certainly going over the thousand, maybe up to 2,000 a day”, the scientist, who works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added.
It comes after Cabinet ministers were warned it could take just four weeks for NHS hospitals to be completely overwhelmed.
Ministers are said to have been told so many doctors and nurses could be off sick by January 15 that those left will struggle even more than now to care for patients.
Likewise ministers were told some pubs, shops and restaurants could have to shut if staff shortages leave them high and dry, according to reports.
The Sun originally reported that ministers were warned some hospitals could have to turn patients away, but this was denied by Downing Street.
The PM’s spokesman insisted there had not been “any discussion or any warning about hospitals or clinical settings having to close as a result of this variant”.
He added: “We have strong measures in place and robust, and now tested, procedures in place to ensure [public services] can continue.”
Latest figures suggest 10 known Omicron patients are in hospital but numbers are expected to surge as more cases are detected.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was unable to confirm any deaths from the new strain – but warned there is a lag between infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
He said there country was facing a “tidal wave” of infections as the Government launched a mammoth booster programme to battle the “Omicron emergency”.
Boris Johnson gave a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, where he said two doses of a vaccine is “simply not enough” to prevent the spread of Omicron – and the NHS could soon be overwhelmed.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.