The country is “in for a pretty grim period” of coronavirus deaths, the Government’s top scientist has warned, as the daily reported death toll reached a new high. He said “we’re in a period of high death numbers” which will not “reduce quickly”. According to Government data, there were 1,564 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test on Wednesday, the highest figure reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.
Speaking to ITV’s Peston programme, Sir Patrick said: “There are more young people being hospitalised because there are more young people with the infection.
“So it’s true that lots of young people are ending up in hospital and about a quarter of the people I think in hospital are now under the age of 55, so I mean a reminder of how this can affect everybody.
“But if you look at the distribution overall, it still looks roughly the same with this variant.”
He added: “The daily numbers jump around a bit but I think we are in a position now – when you look at the number of infections we’ve had over the past few weeks and how this is likely to continue, so I don’t think they’re going to drop very quickly – that I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks.
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“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 latest figures mean the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.
In the interview, Sir Patrick did not rule out the need for more restrictions to help bring infection rates down but said current rules are having some impact on the numbers.
It comes as Boris Johnson has said he is “concerned” about the new coronavirus variant that is believed to have emerged in Brazil but he stopped short of imposing a precautionary travel ban.
The Prime Minister insisted on Wednesday that “extra measures” are being taken to protect against the strain as he acknowledged it is unclear how effective existing vaccines will be against it.
But he came under intense questioning from Yvette Cooper, the chair of the Commons home affairs committee, as she called on him to take “immediate action on a precautionary basis”.
She said that three days had passed since gaining knowledge of the variant but there is still nothing to stop arrivals coming from the South American nation.