United Kingdom: Covid-19 cases breach 3 million mark and death toll passes 80,000

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom has now surpassed the three million mark amid the fast spreading new variants of the virus.

The overall fatalities went past 80,000 – the highest in Europe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a third stay-at-home order at the start of the week as alarm deepens that hospitals could be overwhelmed, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday declared a “major incident” in the capital and said the spread of COVID-19 was “out of control”.

READ: Covid-19 declared ‘major incident’ in London as infection rate goes ‘out of control’

Last week, the government announced what is now the third national lockdown as it battles a new, more contagious variant of coronavirus that has swept across Britain.

The infection surge threatens to overwhelm hospitals, putting more strain on doctors and nurses who are already tired after almost a year of the pandemic.

“We are hearing about people being treated in ambulances and car parks outside the hospital because there’s no room inside to bring people in,” said Dr Tom Dolphin, a hospital anaesthetist and spokesman for the British Medical Association council. “It’s getting to the point where we are struggling to maintain basic standards in some hospitals.”

The number of COVID-19 patients treated in hospital in London was up in the first week of January alone by almost a third, and the number of artificially ventilated patients rose by more than 40 percent, according to Khan.

Hundreds of firefighters came to the aid of the health service to drive ambulances.

To date, more than 1.5 million people in the UK have received coronavirus jabs, with the elderly, their carers and health workers prioritised during the immunisation drive.

READ: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have received Covid-19 vaccinations