Boris Johnson warns UK intensive care capacity could be exceeded

LONDON — There is a “very substantial risk” intensive care capacity in the NHS could be exceeded, Boris Johnson said, as he warned of “colossal” strain on medics battling the U.K.’s coronavirus epidemic.

Addressing senior MPs on the House of Commons liaison committee, the U.K. prime minister also revealed his government is concerned about another new viral strain which has emerged in Brazil and is considering further travel restrictions on arrivals from the country.

The session came as the UK recorded a further 1,564 COVID-related deaths, the highest figure reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

Questioned about the situation in England’s hospitals by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Johnson said there were 32,000 COVID-19 inpatients currently receiving care — 70 percent more than at the previous peak in April last year.

“If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that, but all I can say is that the risk is very substantial,” Johnson said. “We have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”

Johnson admitted he was “concerned” when pressed on reports the government’s advisory committee on emerging virus threats yesterday discussed a new strain of COVID thought to have originated in Brazil and since detected in Japan.

“We already have tough measures to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad and we’re taking steps to do that with respect to the Brazilian variant,” he added.

On the U.K.’s vaccination program, Johnson said 2.8 million doses have now been administered to 2.4 million people. The U.K. is publishing daily data on how many have received a jab and Johnson said this would soon be broken down by region.

Some areas are, he said, doing better than others, with more than half of people over 80 in the North East of England and Yorkshire having received a jab.



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