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Senin, 11 Januari 2021

UK steps up vaccinations as coronavirus-related deaths and case numbers hit record highs - ABC News

The United Kingdom is facing its worst weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, its Chief Medical Officer says, with deaths and cases in the country hitting record highs ahead of the rollout of a mass vaccination program.

According to Johns Hopkins University, deaths from the virus have now exceeded 81,500 in the UK — the world's fifth-highest toll — with 3,081,368 people testing positive for the virus since the pandemic began.

A new, more transmissible variant of the disease is surging through the population, with one in 20 people in parts of London now infected.

In a bid to get on top of the pandemic and to try to restore some degree of normality by the spring, the UK is rushing out its largest ever vaccination program, with shots to be offered to all those in its top four priority categories — about 15 million people — by the middle of next month.

But the Government's Chief Medical Adviser, Chris Whitty, warned the situation would deteriorate in the meantime.

"The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS (National Health Service)," he said.

"Anybody who is not shocked by the number of people in hospital who are seriously ill at the moment and who are dying over the course of this pandemic, I think, has not understood this at all. This is an appalling situation," he told the BBC.

NHS facing 'a significant crisis'

During the peak of the first outbreak in April about 18,000 people were in hospital but now there are 30,000.

Professor Whitty said the health service was facing "a significant crisis".

"Everybody says that this is the most dangerous time we've really had in terms of numbers into the NHS," he said.

Last week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the city's hospitals were in danger of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, and ministers and health chiefs pleaded with people to respect lockdown measures and stay at home unless it was essential to go out.

The UK was the first nation to approve vaccines developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and by Pfizer/BioNTech , and last week it approved Moderna's shot.

To reach its target of delivering shots to 15 million people by the middle of next month, it will need to administer 2 million vaccines a week.

The UK Government is opening seven big vaccination centres but additional doctors' surgeries, hospitals and some pharmacies will also start delivering shots.

"The vaccinations are really beginning to ramp up, 200,000 a day, we've done an incredible job this past week," Nadhim Zahawi, the minister in charge of the vaccination program said.

Those in the four highest-risk levels — which includes people over 70, clinically vulnerable people and frontline health workers — would be offered vaccines by February 15, he said.

"We are now very close to the point with the vaccinations where we are able to get on top of this, but it is not yet," Professor Whitty said.

Reuters

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2021-01-11 11:41:00Z
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