Boris Johnson warns NHS is running out of intensive care beds as Patrick Vallance says death rate won’t drop for ‘weeks’

BORIS Johnson has warned there is a “substantial risk” that the NHS will run out of intensive care beds as hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in Covid cases. 

It comes as the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said deaths “won’t drop for weeks” after the country reported a record 1,564 fatalities today.

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Paramedics unload a patient from an ambulance outside the Royal London Hospital in London

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Paramedics unload a patient from an ambulance outside the Royal London Hospital in LondonCredit: PA:Press Association
Boris Johnson has warned there is a “substantial risk” that the NHS will run out of intensive care beds

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Boris Johnson has warned there is a “substantial risk” that the NHS will run out of intensive care bedsCredit: Universal News & Sport (Europe)

A total of 84,767 have died of the virus during the pandemic but the total number of deaths involving coronavirus could be higher than 100,000, according to Press Association.

This total is made up of 93,418 UK deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, plus a further 7,742 that are known to have occurred since the latest registration data was published.

With a record 32,689 Covid patients in hospital, the PM warned the situation was “very, very tough” and the strain on medics was “colossal”. 

In a stark warning to MPs, Mr Johnson said: “If you asked me, when do we think that the ICU [intensive care unit] 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.

“We have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”

In-patient numbers are currently up 18 per cent over the week, and are 70 per cent higher than the peak of the first wave in April, The Independent reports. 

‘GRIM PERIOD’

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK was in for a “grim period” – with daily deaths likely to continue to be high. 

He told ITV’s Peston: “I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks, 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 three deadliest days of the pandemic have all been recorded this month. But deaths usually lag behind cases, meaning the current rate of fatalities is unlikely to drop until a fortnight after cases fall.

Sir Patrick said there were signs that lockdown was curbing transmission but warned “it may be that we need more on top of this at some point”. 

There are fears compliance has waned during the third shutdown with Downing Street discussing whether to clamp down further. 

The PM told MPs at PMQS today: “If there is any need to toughen up restrictions, which I don’t rule out, we will come to this house.

“The lockdown measures are starting to show signs of some effect and we must take account of that too.”

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