The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 could more than double within weeks, the former chief scientific adviser to the government has said.
Prof Sir Mark Walport said it was “not unrealistic” to think that there could be 25,000 people in hospitals by the end of November. It comes as pressure mounts on medical staff, with more than 9,000 patients in hospitals with Covid-19.
Asked if it is not unrealistic to think of 25,000 people being in hospital by the end of November, Walport, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “It’s certainly not unrealistic to think about that.”
On hospital admissions, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “France, which has a very similar population to us, currently has about 16,000 people in hospital. It’s got 2,500 in intensive care beds compared with 852 here and roughly half the ICU beds in France are occupied. We’re seeing similar things in Spain.
“And these are in spite of these countries taking strong measures as well. So, the answer is that with our current measures – which are similar but with variations in different parts of Europe – there’s still evidence that there isn’t as much social distancing as there was when we clamped down on the first wave. And so we know that the risk is significant [and] that cases will continue to grow.”
He said that we are “still relatively early in the second wave” but added: “The number of cases is rising very significantly – it was 22,800 on 27 October and the seven-day average was just over 22,000. So there are an awful lot of cases.”