Coronavirus: UK cases “may reach plateau in 2-3 weeks,” says senior health official

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One of Britain’s top health officials has said that the number of people admitted to the hospital with coronavirus could “peak” in the next two to three weeks, when he conceded in frustration that few people in the UK were tested.

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director emeritus of Public Health England, could not rule out the possibility that the United Kingdom is on track to suffer 1,000 deaths a day this weekend.

“I expect … that we will continue to see an increase in the number of infected people admitted to hospital over the next two to three weeks,” he told BBC Radio 4. Today program Thursday. “But we should reach a plateau, if all the social removal measures work, in about two to three weeks. “

Downing Street revealed on Wednesday that only 2,000 front-line NHS workers forced to stay at home during the pandemic had been tested.

“Everyone involved is frustrated that we have not yet reached the job [on testing] that we have to achieve, “said Professor Cosford. “You heard of the 2,000 yesterday – far from where we need to go, but it’s a good start. “

Boris Johnson has pledged to speed up testing for coronavirus after his government has been criticized for being slower than some of its European counterparts to deploy checks for frontline health workers.

Prime Minister said mass tests “would unlock the conundrum” in his latest video on Twitter, after No. 10 admitted that fewer than 50 out of 50 NHS front-line workers forced to stay at the house due to a coronavirus had been tested to see if they could return to work.

Professor Cosford admitted that the number of tests in England seems small, but insisted that they “increase rapidly” and said that there was more “capacity” available to start testing more NHS staff.

Asked why more testing facilities were not being used, the public health official in England said that there were plans to use “all these laboratories, all this capacity, to increase at least 100 000 tests a day, and I hope more. “

Professor Cosford said he would expect this work to be in place “in the next few days and a few weeks.”

He added, “I know that 2,000 people don’t ring a lot compared to the hundreds of thousands of NHS staff we have, but who are now growing rapidly … It’s an incredibly complex operation to set up in very little time of time. period of time. “

The medical director also said that social distance should remain in place until the spread of the disease becomes “minimal.” Professor Cosford said that the lockdowns would be “reconsidered and in some cases perhaps lightened – but we cannot say at all”.

At the Downing Street Coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said that hundreds of thousands of staff were planning to be tested “within weeks to come ”.

Chris Hopson, Managing Director of NHS Providers, said that a “shortage of reagents and swabs” was currently limiting the number of tests performed, but that there was enough testing machine capacity to perform 100,000 tests per day.

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