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The NHS is preparing to administer any potential coronavirus vaccine before Christmas, as it was revealed that the number of Covid in-patients in England was equivalent to 22 hospitals full of patients.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said there had been a “very substantial” increase in coronavirus hospital admissions in October.
Projections by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) show that, by the end of November, there will be more Covid in-patients than there were during the first peak in April.
But there was some hope as Stevens disclosed the health service was preparing to write to all GPs across the country in anticipation of a potential vaccine being available before Christmas.
GPs will be “geared up to start by Christmas if the vaccine becomes available”, Stevens said.
He added: “There are over 200 vaccines in development and we believe that we should hopefully get one or more of those available from the first part of next year.
“In anticipation of that we’re also gearing the NHS up to be ready to make a start on administering Covid vaccines before Christmas, if they become available.
“We reached an agreement with GPs to ensure they will be doing that, and we’ll be writing to GP practices this week to get them geared up to start by Christmas if the vaccine becomes available.”
Stevens said the health service was “adding as much capacity as it can” in anticipation of the usual winter pressures and greater demand due to the pandemic.
“In many parts of the country we’re now seeing more coronavirus in-patients in hospital and in intensive care than we saw in the first peak in April,” he said.
In early September, there were under 500 coronavirus patients in hospitals, he said. By the beginning of October that figure had risen to 2,000. The current figure is just under 11,000 in-patients.
“So, put another way, we’ve got 22 hospitals’ worth of coronavirus patients across England. And indeed, even since Saturday, when the prime minister gave his press conference, we filled another two hospitals full of severely ill coronavirus patients,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Stevens urged the public to adhere to national lockdown restrictions to preserve other services as he revealed that a quarter of routine operations had been cancelled in the north-west.
“And the reason we want to try and minimise the number of coronavirus infections and patients is not only because of the excess death rate that implies, but because of the knock-on consequences it has for other services: routine operations, cancer care,” he said.
He added: “So if we want to preserve those other services so that the health service can continue to help the full range of patients, we need to do everything we can, together, to keep the infection rate down for coronavirus.”
A further 397 people were reported on Tuesday as having died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, the highest daily increase in Covid-related deaths in five months.
While the Tuesday tally tends to be higher owing to a delay in reporting deaths over the weekend, the latest figure is nevertheless the highest recorded since 422 people were reported as having died on 27 May.
It is more than seven times the daily toll recorded on 23 March when the first national lockdown began, and takes the government’s official coronavirus death toll for the UK since the pandemic began to 47,250.
However, separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths, where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been just under 63,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
What you can and can’t do in England’s new national Covid lockdown
New national restrictions are due to come into effect in England on Thursday, after MPs vote on them, and remain in place at least until 2 December.
What can I leave home for?
- For childcare or education, where it is not provided online.
- To go to work unless it can be done from home.
- Outdoor exercise either with household members or with one person from another household.
- For all medical reasons and appointments.
- To escape injury or harm, such as domestic abuse.
- To provide care for vulnerable people or volunteer.
- To shop for food and essentials.
- To see people in your support bubble.
- Children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.
Government say the list is not exhaustive, and other permitted reasons for leaving home may be set out later. People could face fines from police for leaving their home without a legally permitted excuse.
Can different households mix indoors?
No, not unless they are part of an “exclusive” support bubble, which allows a single-person household to meet and socialise with another household.
Parents are allowed to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.
Can different households mix outdoors?
People are allowed to meet one person from another household socially and for exercise in outdoor public spaces, which does not include private gardens.
Can I attend funerals, weddings or religious services?
Up to 30 people will still be allowed to attend funerals, while stone settings and ash scatterings can continue with up to 15 guests.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not permitted except in “exceptional circumstances”. Places of worship must remain closed except for voluntary services, individual prayer and other exempt activities.
Can I travel in the UK or abroad for a holiday?
Most outbound international travel will be banned. There is no exemption for staying away from home for a holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions.
Which businesses will close?
Everything except essential shops and education settings, which include nurseries, schools and universities, will close.
Entertainment venues will also have to close. Pubs, restaurants and indoor and outdoor leisure facilities will have to close their doors once more.
However, takeaway and delivery services will still be allowed, while construction and manufacturing will stay open.
Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work. Some youth services may be able to continue, such as one-to-one youth work, but most youth clubs will need to close their doors.
Public services, such as jobcentres, courts, and civil registration offices will remain open.
There is no exemption for grassroots organised team sports. Elite sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently, including Premier League football matches.
Stevens also suggested that all patient-facing NHS staff would soon be routinely tested, regardless of symptoms.
He said: “Routine testing of asymptomatic NHS staff has now begun in high prevalence parts of the country, areas where there are outbreaks, and more than 70,000 NHS staff have had those tests within the last several weeks.
“And the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, yesterday wrote to the health committee, to parliament, explaining that, because the availability of testing had now increased, and we’ve got this new saliva testing that will be available for hospital and other health service staff over the next six or eight weeks, we will now be able to press on routinely testing all patient-facing NHS staff.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: GPs in England told to be ready to administer Covid vaccine by Christmas | Coronavirus