Coronavirus case increases a ‘nationwide phenomenon’, warns senior medic

Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England. Pic: PA Video/PA Wire

Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England. Pic: PA Video/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The pattern of coronavirus cases spiking among young people at first, before moving through to older people, is happening in other regions - the country’s deputy chief medical officer has said.

And, ahead of prime minister Boris Johnson’s expected announcement over three tiers of coronavirus restrictions, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that almost all areas of the UK are now seeing a “marked pickup” in the infection rate.

He said COVID-19 is a “nationwide phenomenon” and not a problem confined to the north, but not the south.

With Mr Johnson likely to announce harsher restrictions, including closing pubs and gyms, in parts of northern England, Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, said there were now more patients in hospital with coronavirus than there were when the government ordered the lockdown in March.

Explaining an age-specific chart at a press briefing, Prof Van-Tam said: “You will see that the infection rate was initially highest in the 16-29-year-olds.

“And that, as you move to the right just gets hotter and hotter but as it does so you can see the incremental creep of the infection into the next age band up, 30-44, followed two or three weeks later by a creep-up again into the 45-59s, and you can now see that the 60+ are now heating up on that chart.

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“The North West experienced all of this first and my understanding is that pattern is likely to be followed - you can see it in the North East and you can see it in Yorkshire and the Humber just beginning but at an earlier stage.”

He said it was of “concern” that coronavirus was “heating up” in more of England than a week ago.

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He said: “It has changed in a matter of just a few days and that is clearly of concern to me.”

Prof Van-Tam also warned that coronavirus was spreading from younger age groups into those aged of 60.

He said: “We have baked in additional hospital admissions and sadly we also have baked in additional deaths.”

Professor Powis, said: “As the infection rate has begun to grow across the country, hospital infections have started to rise,” he told the No 10 news briefing.

“It is clear that hospital admissions are rising fastest in those areas of the country where infection rates are highest, particularly the North West.

“In the over-65s - particularly the over-85s - we are seeing steep rises in the numbers of people being admitted to hospital so the claim that the elderly can somehow be fenced off from risk is wishful thinking.”

The temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in Covid-19 cases.

NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis told a Downing Street briefing there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.

MORE: Explained - what is behind the rising coronavirus cases in Norwich?

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