Dr Adrian Harris, medical director of the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust and the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, made the comments at a board meeting earlier in the week.
He said the South West is preparing to be hit as hard by Covid-19 as the east of England has been in recent weeks.
“We are preparing to be hit as hard as the east of England. If we get hit that hard, we’ll hang on by our fingernails and plan accordingly, ”Dr Harris said.
“We hope and pray that the lockdown has come in time for Devon.
“My personal opinion – and that of my colleagues across the country – is that there is a Covid-19 tidal wave coming to the west of the country.”
Although the actual number of cases in the South West remains relatively low, they have increased at a faster rate than anywhere else in England.
Although sparsely populated, the Southwest also has relatively low hospital capacity to reflect this – meaning that even a relatively minor increase in hospital admissions could prove disastrous.
As for the situation in the south-east of England, there are 10 hospitals operating at CRITCON 3, which means they are “full blast” and intensive care patients are spilling out on other services. .
Rooms that would normally be used for things like babysitting are turned into intensive care units for adults.
Meanwhile, East Suffolk and North Essex had 367 confirmed Covid-19 patients as of 8 a.m. on January 5, up from a first wave peak of 143.
NHS East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust chief Nick Hulme said hospitals in Ipswich and Colchester were full.
Dr Harris added: “I have no doubts that the situation that we are seeing in the east of England, with the problems with the beds and the oxygen supply, will occur in the west of the country.
“Normally, we are able to make fairly robust predictions about our destination. But I have to say that the precision of where we’re going to be is probably the least we’ve had since the start of the pandemic.
“We will face absolutely extraordinary times.”
Yesterday, two more coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed in hospitals in Devon, according to figures from NHS England.
One has been confirmed at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the other at Torbay Hospital.
The deaths confirmed in the data mean the total number of people who have died in county hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic is now 467.