Coronavirus Pressure On NHS To Peak In Three Weeks, Top Scientist Says

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Pressure on the NHS due to the coronavirus outbreak will peak in the next two to three weeks, one of the top scientists advising government has predicted. 

Professor Neil Ferguson, who is himself recovering from the disease, said if Boris Johnson’s lockdown is effective then demand for intensive care units beds could be “within capacity” and may start to decline. 

But Imperial College London’s top epidemiologist, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee advising ministers, cautioned his prediction was based on Brits strictly following the rules. 

He also said the UK could “easily” see a second wave of the virus in the summer unless ministers ramped up testing and tracing from April. 

Ferguson, who gave evidence to the Commons’ science and technology committee via video link on Wednesday, warned that while Covid-19 has spread throughout the UK, there were “hotspots”, notably in Derby and Nottingham, where people “seeding” the virus had arrived from abroad. 

Ferguson said there was uncertainty but “if the current measures work as we would expect them then we will see intensive care demand peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter”.

He also predicted that the stress on the NHS would be “within capacity” if people in the UK followed the strict measures.

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A message thanking the National Health Service staff is shown on a screen at Bournemouth Pier.

He said: “There will be some areas that are extremely stressed but we are reasonably confident – which is all we can be at the current time – that at the national level we will be within capacity.”

It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that London’s Excel centre, which is usually used for large-scale conferences, would be transformed into a 4,000-bed military field hospital. 

The capital has so far been the worst-hit part of the…

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