Hospital beds in the southwest could run out within two weeks as the number of patients admitted with the Coronavirus continues to rise.
A BBC report indicates that if no action is taken, NHS hospitals across the region and the Midlands may be forced to stop accepting new patients.
It comes amid broader concerns that all hospitals across England may be at full capacity by Christmas, even if Nightingale hospitals are used and non-urgent procedures canceled.
It comes as new national lockdown restrictions could be imposed within days after scientists warned that half a million people would contract COVID-19 each week, with stricter regional measures in mind.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the measures for England – which may be introduced on Wednesday and continue through December 1 – at a news conference on Monday, according to a report in The Times.
The newspaper said that everything except for essential stores and educational places could be closed under the new measures, but it is understood that no final decisions have been taken.
Johnson has so far resisted pressure from scientists and action to introduce a “circuit breaker” to curb COVID-19 cases, but is facing fresh calls after new data showed the extent of cases across England.
An infection survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that cases “continued to rise sharply” in the week ending October 23, with an estimated 568,100 people infected in captivity.
Scientific advisers at the head of the government believe that it is now too late for a two-week national circuit breaker to have enough effect and that a longer national lockdown is needed to push the reproduction number, or R, of the virus, again under one.
All parts of England are on their way to finishing level 3 in a matter of weeks amid concerns that the death toll could soon reach 500 people a day.
Government scientists are also confident that more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus are now occurring every day in England.
A senior government science advisor said, “It is too late to definitely think that a two-week circuit breaker on its own will solve this. It will need to last longer to have a significant effect. “
They said that R needs to be reduced to less than one in many places “to bring it down to levels that do not expose the risk of violating health service capacity” while in other regions growth needs to be leveled for this to happen.
“The longer you leave it, the harder it is to change that,” they said.
This comes at a time when official documents issued by the government showed that the Emergency Scientific Advisory Group (Sage) meeting on October 8 said that the number of injuries and hospitalizations “exceeds the levels of worst-case scenario planning that is reasonable at this time.”
The document, which came just days before the announcement of three levels of restrictions, said the number of deaths was “very likely to exceed reasonable levels for worst-case planning” over the next two weeks.
Professor Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease expert and Sage member, said Friday evening that to control the coronavirus, “we have to act now”.
He tweeted, “The best time to act was a month ago, but these are very difficult decisions that we all want to avoid. The second best time is now.”
“The sooner we beat disease, the less transmission, R <1, the faster we can return our society to normal and put the economy back on track."
France and Germany announced national lockdown restrictions earlier this week, while in Northern Ireland, bars and restaurants were closed for four weeks starting October 16 excluding fast food and deliveries. Schools are closed for two weeks.
Wales is currently under a “fire” lockdown with entertainment, hospitality and tourism companies closed, and in Scotland the majority of people will be under Level 3 of a new five-tier system starting Monday.
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