The UK is now “past the peak” of the current wave of the CCP virus pandemic, England’s chief medical officer has said.
“Most of my colleagues think we are past the peak,” Professor Chris Whitty said on Wednesday at a press conference held in Downing Street.
He was quick to warn against complacency, saying it “doesn’t mean you could never have another peak.”
“But, at this point in time, provided people continue to follow the guidelines, we are on the downward slope of cases, of hospitalisations, and of deaths, in all four of the nations of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“So I think, we do think, at this point, this peak at least, we are past.”
But Whitty warned that another surge is possible if the existing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdown rules are eased too quickly, putting the National Health Service (NHS) under renewed pressure.
“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,” he said.
“The rates are now coming down but they are still incredibly high. If we were to start take-off again from the very high levels we are at the moment the NHS will get back into trouble extraordinarily fast.”
On Wednesday 03 February 2021, 19,202 new cases and 1,322 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK.
— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) February 3, 2021
Almost 90 percent of those aged 75 and over in England and “every eligible person in a care home” have had the vaccine, he said.
AstraZeneca said on Wednesday it aims to have an updated vaccine to address the different CCP virus variants by the autumn.
Johnson said there are already “some signs of hope” as the numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital are “beginning to fall for the first time since the onset of this new wave.”
But he said the level of infection is “still alarmingly high,” and more than 32,000 patients are still in hospital with the virus.
Data released on Tuesday showed another 1,322 people had died within 28 days of a positive CCP virus test.
Johnson said it is still too early “to imagine the relaxation of the current guidelines.”
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.