The NHS will face its worst weekend in history as the number of coronavirus patients increases, a leading professor has warned.
On Wednesday, the UK experienced 938 deaths in UK hospitals in just 24 hours – the highest daily number since the outbreak began, bringing the total to 7,097.
Now, former government advisor and World Health Organization executive Professor Karol Sikora says the NHS will experience its worst weekend on record this Easter.
It comes after the government announced the spread of the virus was not accelerating and that hospital admissions were slowing down.
Professor Sikora told Sky News: “The good news is we are plateauing off and we heard from the medical director of NHS England that she agrees we are plateauing in terms of the number of infections.”
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“Unfortunately, we’re heading for the worst weekend in the history of the NHS since 1948.
“Never before have we seen so many people seriously ill come as a surge to the NHS.”
The government is chairing a COBRA meeting on Thursday to review the UK’s lockdown restrictions, which have been in place since 23 March.
However, the restrictions face their toughest test so far over the Easter weekend, with temperatures in some parts of the country set to reach 25C (77F).
Sikora continued: “We’ve got to have these social distancing arrangements, including over the weekend.
“As we come off the plateau of the number of patients, then we see a decrease in hospitalisation, there’s a little hint that’s already happened, the number of hospital admissions are already falling now, and then we will see the death rate fall, probably not for a week or two.
“The government, I think, has to talk about options for the dates. They must have options for when we can be released because people will go mad if we carry on like this.
“I think it’s good to talk about it, we can all argue about it, but we have to come to some hopeful conclusion.”
Speaking of how the UK should lift restrictions, Sikora said: “We need to get through this weekend, see a fall in the death rate, the fall in the use of the NHS. That should happen by about the third or fourth week in April. And then we can start a gradient opening of the lockdown.
“Starting with young people, keeping the old and the vulnerable from a medical viewpoint still safe, and then gradually opening small businesses of less than 30 people and then progress.”
Despite government instructions to avoid social interactions during lockdown, police in Greater Manchester say they been called out to nearly 500 house parties.
Between 25 March and 7 April, officers also had to deal with 166 street parties, 122 group gatherings for sporting activities and 173 gatherings in parks.
Globally, there have been more than 1.4 million confirmed cases, 82,000 deaths and 307,000 recoveries from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.
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