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Britain to see soaring death rate unless it moves fast: Officials

This article is more than 12 months old

LONDON: Britain will face an exponentially growing death rate from Covid-19 within weeks unless the public gets serious about preventive action and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government moves urgently to halt a rapidly spreading second wave, the country's top health officials said yesterday.

New Covid-19 cases are rising by at least 6,000 per day in Britain, according to week-old data, hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, and the testing system is buckling.

Professor Chris Whitty, the government's chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, cautioned that if left unrestricted, the epidemic would reach 50,000 new cases per day by the middle of next month.

Prof Whitty said it was essential for the public to play its part in preventing the National Health Service being overwhelmed in the colder months.

"We are, in a bad sense, literally turning a corner, although only relatively recently. At this point, the seasons are against us," he said.

"This is not someone else's problem. It's all of our problem."

Britain has the biggest official Covid-19 death toll in Europe - and the fifth largest in the world.

"If this continued along the path... the number of deaths directly from Covid... will continue to rise, potentially on an exponential curve, that means doubling and doubling and doubling again and you can quickly move from really quite small numbers to really very large numbers," Pror Whitty said.

"If we don't do enough, the virus will take off. And at the moment, that is the path we are clearly on, and if we do not change course then we're going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem." - REUTERS, AFP