Coronavirus deaths will continue to increase for two weeks after the number of patients admitted to intensive care reaches its peak, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor has said.
Sir Patrick Vallance said there were signs that hospital and intensive care admissions were beginning to level off.
But he gave a stark warning that deaths will still rise, even after the number of intensive care admissions begins to fall.
He said: “In general I’d expect the deaths to continue to go up for about two weeks after the intensive care picture improves.
“So we’re not there yet in terms of knowing exactly when that would be, but that’s the sort of timeframe I’d expect.”
Sir Patrick said it is important to continue with the measures in place.
He said: “The measures that everybody has taken, the difficult things that we’ve all had to do, are making a difference, they’re making a big difference.
“We know that the social distancing is working and we know that people are doing what they’re supposed to do and we need to keep doing that.
“And the reason we need to keep doing that is because it stops the transmission of the virus in the community and we know that that is already happening.”
He added: “The message is clear which is the social distancing we’re doing is breaking transmission, it’s stopping the hospital admissions, beginning to see that flattening off, still unbelievably busy but beginning to see that flatten off, it’s preventing more people going into intensive care and it will prevent deaths.”
He added: “It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made.
“But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.
“We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science.”
Sir Patrick added: “At the time when I was first talking about this the doubling time – how fast we were doubling in terms of numbers, particularly in intensive care – was about three days, it varied a bit.
“This has got steadily longer in time over the last two weeks thanks to what people have done.”
“This is really now becoming not quite flat but the doubling time is now six or more days in almost everywhere in the country and extending in time.”
Sir Patrick, addressing the spread of the virus in the community, said: “This is not doubling. In the community you’d expect this now to be shrinking for all the reasons I’ve said and the evidence suggests that’s what’s happening in terms of the transmission in community.”