More people are now in hospital with coronavirus than before restrictions were first announced in March, senior government advisors have warned.
Experts say the growing influx of Covid-19 patients is building pressure on the NHS, as spiraling infection rates across the country has led to a steep increase in the number of people needing urgent treatment.
Cases growing across the country
While the UK awaits a vaccine or cure for coronavirus, hospital admissions are continuing to rise and stricter measures are expected to be brought in to help minimise the spread.
South Shields man left devastated by fibromyalgia and arthritis sets up new support group to help men talk about their health
Monkeypox, Covid, flu and hayfever - here's how to tell the difference in the early stages of infection
South Tyneside mum who lost son to suicide sets up support group to help others in his memory
'Thousands' may have long Covid in South Tyne
More deaths in South Tyneside
Addressing the nation on 12 October, NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said, “Sadly, as the number of those infected increases, then so will the number of people who die.
“And that’s why the government is looking at what other measures could be introduced in the areas where infection is rising the most.
“As the Secretary of State for Health has said, if we do not take measures to control the spread of the virus, the death toll will be too great to bear.”
Cases are rising particularly fast in the North of England, with areas including Liverpool, Manchester and parts of Yorkshire among the worst affected, but infections are now also growing in other parts of the country.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Johnathan Van-Tam, said it is of “concern” that infection rates are “heating up” in more regions compared with a week ago. He warned that areas are now following the same pattern that unfolded in the North West, which saw the virus move through the age bands, with cases spiking among young people first.
“There is the spread from those younger age groups into the 60-plus age group in the North West and the North East, and there are rates of change in the same places but also extending a little further south,” Prof Van-Tam said.
“And this is again of significant concern, because of course the elderly suffer a much worse course with Covid-19, they are admitted to hospital for longer periods, and they are more difficult to save.”
Nightingales on standby
Nightingale hospitals across the North of England have been put on standby after doctors warned hospitals are four weeks off levels seen during the peak of the virus earlier this year.
Prof Powis said Nightingales Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been asked to prepare to take patients, while all NHS hospital staff in coronavirus hotspots will now be tested regularly, regardless of symptoms.
The measures come following soaring cases across the North, which are expected to result in a rise in hospital admissions.