Britain reported a record 1,820 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, surpassing the record set the day before, with scientists warning that the lockdown that began earlier this month had little effect on the prevalence of disease.
Government data showed there was also an increase in new cases, climbing to 38,905 from 33,355 a day earlier.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the seriousness of the pandemic and warned that the worst could be yet to come given the large number of cases.
“These numbers are appalling,” Johnson told Sky News. “And, of course, we think about the pain that each of these deaths represents for their families and friends. I have to tell you… there will be more to come.
The government imposed a third national lockdown on January 5, closing bars, restaurants and most schools and allowing only essential stores to open.
People have been urged to stay at home as much as possible to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and to give authorities time to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to the elderly and those most at risk.
Johnson admitted that while it looked like some infection rates “across the country” might peak or flatten out, “they don’t flatten out very quickly,” as he urged people to stay away. stick to social distancing and other measures designed to curb the spread of the disease.
His comments came as researchers at Imperial College warned on Thursday that the prevalence of the disease in England remained “very high” and that there had been “no evidence of decline” in the first 10 days new restrictions.
He said the number of deaths would continue to rise until infection rates were drastically reduced, which would ease the extreme strain on health services.
“The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 (in hospital) is extremely high at the moment, and we cannot expect this to decrease unless we can achieve lower prevalence levels,” said Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics. who co-led the REACT-1 prevalence study.
“The fact that (the prevalence) does not decrease has potentially serious consequences.”
Presenting the latest data from the study – covering January 6 to January 15 – Riley said prevalence rates were 1.58%, the highest rate recorded by the REACT-1 study since its launch in May 2020. It’s also over 50% higher than the last reading in mid-December.
Riley also warned of immediate hopes on COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The vaccine will only have a very limited impact on short-term prevalence,” he told reporters.
Paul Elliott, epidemiology and public health medicine expert and director of the REACT program, said stubborn levels of COVID-19 infection could be in part due to a more transmissible variant of the virus that emerged at the end of Last year.
“We really need to double down on public health measures – wear masks, keep your distance and wash your hands,” Elliott said. “There will be continued pressure until we can reduce the prevalence.”
The UK variant of the disease has now been reported in dozens of countries and many have closed their borders.
The Times newspaper reported on Thursday that European governments would be allowed to ban all UK residents from entering their country and cut all passenger transport links with Britain under a German proposal to the European Union in response to the new variant.
EU member states are free to impose temporary bans on entry and transport of passengers from non-EU countries with areas of virus variants, the document reported, citing a draft proposal.
The Netherlands has already banned British flights and introduced a nationwide curfew – the first since World War II – in an attempt to curb the spread of the British variant.