The country, which has already suffered more deaths from the disease than any other European nation and recently became the fifth nation on earth to reach the grim stage of three million cases, is on the verge of seeing its hospitals overloaded.
Whitty told the BBC on Monday that there are currently more than 30,000 patients in hospital, up from 1
“We are now in a situation where, in the UK as a whole, about one in 50 people is infected, and in London it is around 1 in 30,” Whitty said. “There’s a very good chance that if you meet someone unnecessary, they’ll get Kovid.”
His warning comes with the country only a week after the third national lock. But there are growing fears that Britons are increasingly abandoning the rules as the number of cases continues to rise despite extreme measures.
Whitty stressed that minimizing contact with others will stop the situation from getting worse.
“Every unnecessary contact that each of us has is a potential link in a transmission chain that will ultimately lead to a vulnerable person,” he told the BBC. “So the absolute key is to all think about whether we really need to have this contact?”
Whitty’s intervention comes as the number of daily deaths in the UK remains very high, a point gloomily illustrated by the fact that in a county in the South of England the bodies are stored in a temporary facility as the morgue has capacity.
The temporary facility in Surrey, south of London, can hold an additional 800 bodies, on top of 600 that can be kept in the morgue.
A spokesman for the Surrey Local Sustainability Forum told the British news agency PA: “To give some perspective on this, during the first wave they had 700 bodies that passed through this (temporary) facility … The first wave lasted approximately 12 weeks. from mid-March to mid-May … Since December 21, in just two and a half weeks, 300 bodies have passed through them. ”
The United Kingdom has overtaken the Covid-19 vaccination approval curve, and the government is expected to outline on Monday how it will achieve its goal of vaccinating 13 million people by February 15.
Much of the program will be run by the country’s vaccination centers – the first of which opens on Monday – and an army of volunteers trained to administer the vaccine.
And even the good news that two million people have been vaccinated has been exacerbated by reports of vaccine shortages in some hospitals. It is not clear why the shortage occurs; the government is facing criticism for how it plans to prioritize the distribution of the doses it has.
If Whitty’s worst fears become a reality, then the National Health Service will be under tremendous pressure as it tries to deal with unprecedented hospital admissions, deal with dead bodies, vaccinate the most vulnerable citizens while performing normal procedures.
The government will hope that Whitty’s harsh warnings will force citizens to comply with measures to stop the virus from spreading.