‘Next few weeks are going to be the worst’ of the pandemic, England’s medical chief warns

A patient is brought into the Royal London Hospital, in London during England’s third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, Sun Jan 10, 2021.

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

LONDON —  England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned Monday that the “next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks” of the coronavirus pandemic for the U.K.’s National Health Service. 

Whitty was speaking to the BBC, highlighting that there were now more than 30,000 people hospitalized with the virus across England alone. 

The number of people in the whole U.K. that have died from the virus topped 80,000 over the weekend, reaching 81,567, according to Johns Hopkins University data. On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident over the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the U.K.’s capital, with one in 30 Londoners said to have the virus. 

Whitty said that people therefore needed to “double down” on adhering to public health restrictions, as it would take several weeks for the coronavirus vaccines currently being rolled out to take effect. 

“Any single unnecessary contact you have with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person,” Whitty said. 

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in a statement released Sunday that some 1.5 million Britons had now received the Covid-19 jab. He pledged that by the end of this week there would be over 1,000 doctor-led sites up and running, as well as 223 hospital sites, seven big vaccination centers and the first wave of 200 community pharmacies.  

In a Q&A session on BBC radio on Monday morning, Whitty said that “I think we were all very relieved” that the government reversed its decision to ease restrictions for five days to let people meet over Christmas, in light of news about a new variant of the coronavirus.

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