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Britain's coronavirus crisis could see eight million hospitalised

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LONDON: Nearly eight million people in Britain could be hospitalised due to the coronavirus epidemic, with the situation expected to last until spring next year, The Guardian reported.

Citing a secret Public Health England (PHE) document for senior National Health Service (NHS) officials, the newspaper said the report outlines the potential scale of the epidemic.

"As many as 80 per cent of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15 per cent (7.9 million) may require hospitalisation," The Guardian cited the document as saying, adding four in five people "are expected" to be infected.

The report was prepared by PHE's emergency preparedness and response team and has been shared with hospital administrators and senior doctors in the NHS.

The Independent reported that PHE said it would not comment on the contents of the document.


The document revealed that of the five million critical staff in essential services and critical infrastructure, roughly 500,000 will fall ill and be off work during a month-long peak of the epidemic.

That includes one million NHS employees and 1.5 million workers in social care.

The report warned that Britain cannot cope with the large number of people who need to be tested because laboratories are "under significant demand pressures".

"From now on, only the very seriously ill who are already in hospital and people in care homes and prisons where the virus has been detected will get tested," it said.

It added testing services are under such strain that even NHS staff will not be swabbed, despite the risk of them passing the virus to patients.

The decision not to test every case runs contrary to the advice from World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to "find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission".

"You can't fight a virus if you don't know where it is," he said. "Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease."

Britain has taken a different approach to tackling the virus from continental Europe, where numerous countries are imposing lockdowns to slow the spread. Britain had at least 1,370 confirmed cases and at least 35 deaths as of Sunday.