More people have died in the UK in 2020 than in any year of the past century, even surpassing the pandemic count of 1918, the government agency for statistics reported on Tuesday (12).
And with roughly 90,000 more deaths than expected, it’s the largest number of excess deaths on record since World War II. Despite this terrible bill, authorities warn that the worst is yet to come, as the recent explosion in infections results in more hospitalizations and deaths.
As a new, more contagious variant of the virus continues to plague Britain – one in 30 people in London is estimated to be infected – hospitals are almost overflowing, as authorities struggle to convince people of the emergency. moment. .
Prime Minister Boris Johnson – criticized on Tuesday for cycling more than 10 miles from his home, against ordering people to stay close to home – met with the cabinet the same day to discuss tightening restrictions, which they are already one of the most complete in Europe.
All bars, restaurants and shops are closed, the reopening of schools has been postponed and public meetings are prohibited. People have been warned that they should only leave home for essential reasons, such as buying food and exercising.
There has been a recent sign of encouragement. After increasing sharply for weeks, the number of infections began to drop. About 45,000 people were reported on Tuesday (12) – far less than the recent peak of over 80,000. Authorities have warned, however, that the effects of the meetings held over the Christmas holidays have not yet been fully felt and that As hospitalizations continue to increase, the crisis in hospitals is worsening hour by hour.
“The next few weeks will be the worst of this pandemic in terms of NHS figures,” England chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Monday, referring to the national health system. “This is the most dangerous moment we have ever seen in terms of numbers.”
There are more than 35,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals, about 14,000 more than during the most difficult time, in the spring [no Hemisfério Norte, outono no Brasil]. Even if the rate of new infections slows significantly, London hospitals could face a shortage of 2,000 beds on January 19, according to a statement from London doctors to the NHS.
More than 3,000 patients were on mechanical breathing as of Friday (8), according to government data.
Daily deaths are approaching highs reached in the spring, with the reported number of 1,243 deaths last Monday. Some hospitals have been forced to build temporary morgues after funeral homes ran out of space. The number of deaths is expected to rise steadily in the coming weeks, according to estimates.
Ambulance teams, which have been running around London for weeks in search of beds for critically ill Covid patients, are on the brink of collapse. Hundreds of police and firefighters have been diverted from their duties to maintain services.
Exhausted health workers are struggling to cope with the surge in patient numbers, while being called upon to lead the most ambitious vaccination campaign in the country’s history.
Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the UK Parliament’s Health Committee and former health secretary, said the praised NHS is on the verge of breaking up. “I think the NHS, at the end of the day, will find intensive care units for anyone who needs it, but it’s absolutely on the verge of a razor,” he told BBC radio.
Perhaps even more critical than the lack of intensive care beds is the shortage of qualified personnel to care for patients. Many healthcare professionals are forced to divide between growing numbers of patients, inevitably hurting the quality of service, officials said.
Britain’s death toll rose to 81,000 this week, the highest in Europe. And this number does not reflect the full extent of the suffering. There were almost 697,000 deaths in Britain in 2020 – nearly 91,000 more than the average for the previous five years. The 15% increase in excess deaths is the largest in more than 75 years, and this figure suggests Covid losses are larger than the official figure.
The failure to contain the spread of the dangerous variant of the virus – first identified by researchers in the UK, but now spanning dozens of countries – has raised questions whether the movements of people should be further limited. But the success of any measure ordered by the government depends mainly on the respect of the rules by the people.
And there is concern that some people have simply stopped listening.
“Most people do what it takes to stay healthy and for others, but sadly a minority continues to blatantly ignore the rules. For example, having house parties, gathering in basements to play games, or raid rave locations. unauthorized, ”Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick wrote in The Times of London on Tuesday.
Another sign of the cost of the current crisis came from the British Retail Consortium, which reported 2020 to be the worst year ever for retail. Even the Royal Mail is affected, with service likely to be cut in some areas as many workers are sick or quarantined.
The escalation of the health crisis and the growing economic calamity have highlighted the urgency of the vaccination campaign in the country, which is gaining momentum. Authorities have expressed optimism that the target of administering at least one of two planned doses to 15 million people over 70 and others from high-risk groups and others from high-risk groups will be met. here Feb. 15.
More than 2.4 million people have been vaccinated, according to the government. Of these, more than 388,677 received both doses. Stephen Powis, NHS medical director in England, said the inoculations would gradually lead to a drop in the number of hospitalizations.
“But we’re not going to see it already,” he said at a press conference on Monday. “We won’t see the first signs until February. The vaccination program gives hope, but to fight the virus today, we must follow the guidelines today.”