NHS faces ‘crucial days’ as Omicron soars to give UK one of world’s worst case rates


Latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University shows that the UK has double the daily infection rate as the European Union average as medics warn NHS services are critically overstretched

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Covid: 162,572 new cases recorded in UK

A new map shows how the UK’s Covid rate has soared above the rest of the world – with the country facing “crucial days” to see if hospitalisations surge.

The number of people admitted with the virus has climbed in the past week, and staff absences across the NHS have stretched services to breaking point.

A doctor today pleaded with patients not to go to A&E unless their condition is serious, urging them to seek treatment from other NHS services first.

Medics have warned that health services are “already overwhelmed”, with more than a million confirmed coronavirus cases in the past – and the real number likely to be much higher.

Latest data shows that the UK’s daily infection rate is estimated to be among the highest in the world as Omicron rips through the country.

This interactive map shows the estimated daily infection rate in countries around the world

According to figures from the Johns Hopkins University, just nine countries have a higher rate of daily infections.

It says the UK has a rate of 2,540 new cases per million every day – more than double the 1,140 average across the European Union.

According to the Institute only Aruba, Andorra, Denmark, Cyprus, Ireland, San Marino, Curacao, Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands are wrestling with more cases.

Germany and Austria, which have introduced restrictions in recent weeks, currently have rates of 334 and 306 daily infections per million, researchers said.

The UK’s Covid infection rate has soared to record levels in recent days
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Press Association Images)

Department of Health figures show that 1,915 people with Covid were admitted on December 27, with a week-on-week rise of 50 per cent.

However the number of patients in intensive care with the virus has remained stead despite the emergence of Omicron, which scientists believe is milder than previous forms of Covid-19.

But following mixing between generations over the Christmas break, it is not clear whether a rise in infections among the older population will lead to a rise in serious cases.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents health trusts, said the country faces a “crucial” few days as NHS staff absence reaches critical levels.

He said staff were working “flat out” and that the NHS was under “arguably more pressure” compared with this time last year.

The number of Covid patients admitted to UK hospitals rose 50 per cent week-on-week
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AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Hopson wrote on Twitter : “NHS preparing for worst & hoping for best. Staff flat out, esp. given level of staff absences.

“We will need to ask them to perform flexible heroics again if hospital covid numbers continue to rise.

“We can’t keep doing this. Long term NHS capacity issues must be addressed.”

He said the booster vaccination campaign was “significantly more resource-intensive”, and said staff absences meant the NHS was “beyond full stretch”.

NHS England data showed 24,632 staff at NHS hospital trusts were ill with coronavirus or having to self-isolate on Boxing Day, up 31% from 18,829 a week earlier and nearly double the 12,508 at the start of the month.

NHS Providers boss Chris Hopson warned the UK faces a ‘crucial’ few days
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Jonathan Hordle/REX/Shutterstock)

Mr Hopson wrote: “Govt must be ready to introduce new restrictions at pace if they’re needed.

“Positive news is that we are still not seeing the large numbers of severely ill older people that we have seen in previous peaks. Vaccine effect very pronounced.”

Figures showed that hospital admissions in England have risen to their highest level since January 2021, while the number of NHS hospital staff absent due to the virus nearly doubled in a month.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for further public health measures “urgently to prevent the health service being completely overwhelmed”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said it was “wholly erroneous to talk about the risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed”, adding that the new year began with the NHS “already overwhelmed, in a parlous state, and with patient care suffering”.

He described staff as “exhausted”, and added: “A key priority for the Government this year must be to properly invest in doctors’ wellbeing, recognising that the NHS cannot afford to lose any more of its workforce without dangerously jeopardising patient care.”

And today officials pleaded with the public not to go to A&E unless it is an emergency.

Dr Saleem Nasir says the emergency department at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospital is currently very busy, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Dr Nasir – who is clinical director at the hospital’s emergency care department – was speaking in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

“We are currently experiencing a ‘high demand’ on emergency services with some patients attending A&E department with minor issues which could have been dealt with at one of our other great NHS services across the borough,” he said.

“Both myself and my wonderful colleagues here in A&E are here to treat the patients with serious incidents and life threatening emergencies.

“Those who need our urgent care the most.

“We are doing everything we can to care for those unwell people to make sure they get the help they need as soon as they need it and as safely as possible. But we do need your help.

“Please help us care for them in their time of need by choosing the right NHS service.

“If you’re unsure, think 111 first. They will help you get to the right care and even book you into our emergency department to see a GP if necessary. Thank you.”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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