England’s chief medical officer has warned the next few weeks will be the “worst weeks of the pandemic” for the NHS.
Professor Chris Whitty told BBC Breakfast: “The peak we had back in April last year, we had about 18,000 people in the NHS. We currently, as of yesterday, have over 30,000 people in the NHS.
“A week ago, all the four chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said: ‘This is going to be a significant crisis for the NHS unless we take evasive action’.
“This new variant is really pushing things in a way that the old variant – which was already very bad – was not able to. So, we have a very significant problem … this is a serious problem and it is rising in every part of England.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS.”
Meanwhile the Government is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in supermarkets and particularly people breaching rules by not wearing masks while shopping in them, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi has said.
“We are concerned that, for example, in supermarkets we need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system, and when they are at capacity to operate safely, people wait outside,” he told Sky News.
“Our plea is to everybody, each and everyone of us. These rules are not boundaries to be pushed against. These rules are there to try and make sure we bring this virus under control,” he said.
In an interview on the Today programme Prof Whitty said: “The virus can be passed on in any place where people from two different households meet together.
“So, it can be passed on, and very often is passed on, in households when people invite people into their home and meet them who are not from their household.
“Of course, it can be passed on in any other environment: outside, in shops, in any kind of environment, and an indoor setting.
“The key thing to understand is that when you meet people from another household under any circumstances – and they’re very often your friends, your family – but those are the kind of situations where the virus is passed on.
“It doesn’t care who you are, it doesn’t care whether they’re your friends. If you meet someone from another household, the virus has an opportunity to be transmitted.”