Watch: UK past the peak of second COVID wave, says Chris Whitty
The UK is “past the peak” of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chris Whitty has said.
England’s chief medical officer made the welcome claim after a winter crisis which has seen record infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
Prof Whitty said at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference: “Most of my colleagues think we are past the peak.
“That doesn’t mean you can never have another peak, but at this point in time, providing people continue to follow the guidelines, we’re on a downward slope of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in all four nations.
“So we do think at this point, this peak at least, we are past.”
On Wednesday, the government’s latest daily COVID-19 data (see below) showed infections are down 25.1% on the previous week, with hospitalisations down 22.2% and deaths down 13.4%.
Nonetheless, Prof Whitty pointed out the situation in hospitals remains worse than it was at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in spring last year.
“The number of people in hospital with COVID has now gone down from its peak, quite noticeably. But as the prime minister said, there are still a very large number of people in hospital, and more people than there were in the first peak in April last year.
“So this is still a very major problem – but it is one that is heading the right way.”
He also warned COVID deaths “will stay high for quite some time” even as they “come down on this pathway”.
At the briefing, Boris Johnson also reiterated 8 March remains his target date for beginning to ease England’s national lockdown, with a “roadmap” set to be published on 22 February.
He said: “Though today there are some signs of hope – the numbers of COVID patients in hospital are beginning to fall for the first time since the onset of this new wave – the level of infection is still alarmingly high.”
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