WORLD UK back in storm eye amid surging coronavirus infections: NHS chief


UK back in storm eye amid surging coronavirus infections: NHS chief


22:57, December 29, 2020

A passenger wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic talks on the telephone waiting at a bus stop with a government message about the coronavirus tier 4 restrictions urging people to stay home in London on December 29, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

LONDON, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Britain is "back in the eye of the storm" as the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in England's hospitals has overtaken the peak in April, chief of the country's National Health Service (NHS) said Tuesday.

"Now again we are back in the eye of the storm with a second wave of coronavirus sweeping Europe and, indeed, this country," Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said during a visit to an NHS vaccination center.

"Many of us have lost family, friends, colleagues and -- at a time of year when we would normally be celebrating -- a lot of people are understandably feeling anxious, frustrated and tired," he said.

Another 357 have died within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 71,109, according to official figures released Monday.

However, the NHS chief noted a sense of hope as Britain continues to roll out vaccines, which he said could be offered to all vulnerable people across this country by late spring next year.

"That perhaps provides the biggest chink of hope for the year ahead," he said.

Meanwhile, Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors' Association UK, said on Twitter that she and her colleagues are "at breaking point".

A couple of commuters wearing masks because of the Covid-19 pandemic are seen riding a London Underground tube train during the morning rush hour in London on December 21, 2020 after the capital was placed under stringent Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions as cases of the virus surge due to a new more infectious strain. (Photo: AFP)

"Today we learnt that we have more patients with COVID in hospital than ever before in England. This is not a drill. Please believe us," she said.

Another 41,385 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, said the official figures on Monday.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 2,329,730, the data showed.

The British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has urged all regions of England to be placed in highest Tier Four restrictions, which require residents in the areas to stay at home, with limited exemptions. People are also urged to work from home when they can, and should not enter or leave those areas.

London and many other parts of England have already been under Tier Four restrictions. For those in Tiers One, Two and Three, up to three households were allowed to meet only on the Christmas Day, while in Tier Four, people should not mix with anyone outside their own household, apart from support bubbles.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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