Vallance issues terrifying update as quarter of Covid patients in hospital are under 55

The country is “in for a pretty grim period” of coronavirus deaths, the Government’s top scientist has warned, as the daily reported death toll reached a new high. He said “we’re in a period of high death numbers” which will not “reduce quickly”. According to Government data, there were 1,564 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test on Wednesday, the highest figure reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

Speaking to ITV’s Peston programme, Sir Patrick said: “There are more young people being hospitalised because there are more young people with the infection.

“So it’s true that lots of young people are ending up in hospital and about a quarter of the people I think in hospital are now under the age of 55, so I mean a reminder of how this can affect everybody.

“But if you look at the distribution overall, it still looks roughly the same with this variant.”

He added: “The daily numbers jump around a bit but I think we are in a position now – when you look at the number of infections we’ve had over the past few weeks and how this is likely to continue, so I don’t think they’re going to drop very quickly – that I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks.

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“It’s not going to come down quickly even if the measures that are in place now start to reduce the infection numbers.

“So we’re in for a pretty grim period, I’m afraid.”

The latest figures mean the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.

In the interview, Sir Patrick did not rule out the need for more restrictions to help bring infection rates down but said current rules are having some impact on the numbers.

He explained: “I think we follow these, the evidence we have so far is this is beginning to work, holding it flat, beginning to potentially push it down.

“We need to monitor it and you know it may be that we need more on top of this at some point, I’m absolutely not ruling that out.

“It may be that we need more on top of this, and I think those obviously are decisions that ministers would need to make.

“But I think at the moment the evidence is that this is having an effect.”

More to follow…

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