Daily Mail Online: LONDON, England – Britain has recorded more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases for the fifth day in a row but hospital deaths from the virus have dipped to fewer than 500.
Another 57,725 had positive test results in the last 24 hours, meaning 2,599,789 have had the disease in the UK since the pandemic began.
The country also saw an additional 445 deaths, taking the grim official count to 74,570 – but 90,000 people in total have died with COVID-19 written on their death certificate.
It comes after experts warned hospitals the current number of coronavirus cases is “mild” compared to what is coming next week.
President of the Royal College of Physicians Professor Andrew Goddard had warned yesterday’s 53,285 infections figure would rise.
He also noted healthcare workers in Britain are “really worried” about the battle against the virus over the next few months.
Meanwhile the majority of planned operations in London hospitals have been halted so medics can tackle the spiralling number of COVID patients.
A staggering 29 out of 39 NHS hospital trusts there have postponed elective surgery – bar cancer-related issues and emergency ones – with areas like Kent also pausing procedures.
President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England Neil Mortensen said the problems facing health centres was “like watching a car crash in slow motion”.
He told the Times: “At the same time as people returned to work, to restaurants and shops, the new more contagious variant insidiously took hold in the south and east of England.
“Hospitals started to see the effects in mid-December, and across many parts of the country now, scheduled operations for hip or knee replacements, or ear, nose and throat operations, have had to be cancelled.
“Thousands of people already waiting, in pain or immobile for many months, will have been sorely disappointed this Christmas to have their operation cancelled or postponed.”
A nurse also outlined the desperate situation in hospitals, with patients running out of oxygen and being left in ambulances and corridors.
And a junior A&E doctor was left “heartbroken” after being met with a crowd of maskless revellers chanting “COVID is a hoax” after his New Year’s Eve shift in London.
London Ambulance staff stretcher a patient from the ambulance into The Royal London Hospital in east London, on Saturday
It comes as a nurse outlined the desperate situation in hospitals, with patients running out of oxygen and being left in ambulances and corridors.
Dave Carr, an intensive care charge nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, said: “The public needs to be aware of what’s happening. This is worse than the first wave; we have more patients than we had in the first wave and these patients are as sick as they were in the first wave.”
Exhausted NHS staff will be looking to the vaccine rollout to stem the tsunami of hospitalisations on the way.
Pfizer and AstraZeneca have said there will be enough doses to hit the country’s ambitious targets.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty this week warned vaccine availability issues will “remain the case for several months” as firms struggle to meet demand.
The Government has pledged to give single doses of the Pfizer vaccine to as many people as they can – rather than give a second dose to those already vaccinated.
But manufacturers of both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs have rubbished concerns, saying there is no problem with supply.
Sir Richard Sykes, who led a review of the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce in December, added he is “not aware” of a shortage in supply.
Another pressing issue facing ministers is whether to keep all primary and secondary schools closed because of a COVID “tsunami” in classrooms.
One teaching union called for all institutions across the country to be closed for the start of the new term.
It came after the government U-turned on its decision to keep some primaries in London open despite rising COVID cases.
Many of the London boroughs which had been told to keep primary schools open are experiencing a surge in COVID cases
Ministers bowed to protests, legal pressure and scientific advice on New Year’s Day after it initially omitted a number of the capital’s boroughs from the forced closures.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the u-turn was needed but said it was “perplexing” it had got to this stage.
She questioned why the same restrictions are not being rolled out across the rest of the country and said the way the devolved powers had dealt with the mutant virus in schools had led to less chaos.
Dr Bousted also slammed the government’s “recklessness” in looking out for teachers and children’s health and branded it “inexplicable”.
The list did not include areas where COVID rates are high such as Haringey whose leaders said they would defy the government and support schools that decided to close.
It comes after a junior A&E doctor was left “heartbroken” after being met with a huge crowd of maskless revellers after his New Year’s Eve shift in London.
Dr Matthew Lee was “disgusted” after a crowd – some chanting “COVID is a hoax” – gathered outside St Thomas’ Hospital – where tireless doctors battled to save Boris Johnson‘s life after he contracted COVID last year.
Dr Lee, from Hong Kong, filmed the group after he finished his senior house officer (SHO) shift in the A&E department.
He claimed some of the people were Covid-19 conspiracy theorists as he questioned why many Britons still do not “realise the seriousness of this pandemic”.
Footage of the crowd emerged as a further 53,285 people in Britain were diagnosed with COVID-19 – marking four days in a row there have been more than 50,000 cases.
Dr Lee shared the clip to Twitter with the caption: “Worked the late A&E SHO shift on New Year’s Eve and came out to this.
“Hundreds of maskless, drunk people in huge groups shouting ”Covid is a hoax”, literally outside the building where hundreds are sick and dying.
“Why do people still not realise the seriousness of this pandemic?”
He later added: “I’m disgusted but mostly heartbroken. I wish people could see the amount of Covid-19 [cases] and deaths in hospitals, and the sacrifices that healthcare workers make.
“This week alone has been so tough. Their ignorance is hurting others. I really wish people would keep themselves safe.”
His footage sparked outrage online, with countless Britons rushing to condemn COVID conspiracy theorists.
Piers Morgan shared Dr Lee’s clip, writing: “This is so disgusting. These morons shame Britain.”
He later added: “Still seething about this. If it’s a hoax, let’s take all these imbeciles inside the Covid ward without PPE.
“See how brave they feel when confronted with the reality of people choking to death.”
Paediatric doctor Sarah Hallett wrote: “And yet ironically, despite how angry and despairing this makes us as NHS staff, if any single one of them needed our help (perhaps intubation and ventilation for example), we would do it in a heartbeat.”
Another viewer added: “I’d love to drag them around the hospital, going from ward to ward showing them the devastation Covid is causing.
“Maybe end the tour with a quick visit to the Morgue. Absolute fools.”
The UK’s daily case count has surged 63 percent in a week, from 32,275 last Friday, meaning 253,720 people have received positive test results since Monday.
And 613 more people have died with the virus – including an eight-year-old child – taking the total official death toll to 74,125.
The eight-year-old died in England on December 30 and had other health problems, the NHS said.
Department of Health records show there were 23,823 people in hospital with the virus by December 28, the most recent update.
The count of fatalities has been erratic this week in the wake of a string of bank holidays, during which hospitals don’t record them as reliably.
Death records were lower than usual over the long Christmas weekend, dropping to 230 deaths on Boxing Day, then higher than expected mid-week, rising to 981 on Wednesday, December 30. The week-long average is 554 deaths per day.
Coronavirus infections have surged over the Christmas holiday with the toughest lockdown measures for most of the country held off until Boxing Day or even later, allowing thousands of families to mix on December 25.
Cases are being driven up by the new super-infectious variant of coronavirus which emerged in the South East but has since spread nationwide.
And with London, Kent and Essex now at the epicentre of England’s second wave – two thirds of yesterday’s cases (33,573) were from those three regions alone – pressure is piling onto hospitals in the area with some declaring they are already in ‘disaster mode’ even coping with admissions from a week or two ago when cases were lower.
London has once again become the centre of England’s crisis, with 15,089 of the cases confirmed yesterday diagnosed in the capital city and hospitals there reporting that their wards are bursting at the seams.
Second worst affected was the South East, where a further 10,844 cases were confirmed yesterday, followed by the East of England with 7,640.
These regions are the ones where the new variant, which may be 56 percent more infectious and so fast-spreading that normal lockdown measures don’t work, emerged and where it now makes up a majority of infections.
Infections are significantly lower in the other regions, where the new variant does not appear to have got such a successful foothold, potentially because they were already in lockdown when it emerged.