TBILISI(BPI)- The coronavirus epidemic in the UK will last until next spring and could lead to 7.9 million people being hospitalised, a secret Public Health England briefing for senior NHS officials reveals.
The document, seen by the Guardian, is the first time health chiefs tackling the virus have admitted that they expect it to circulate for another 12 months and lead to huge extra strain on an already overstretched NHS. It also suggests that health chiefs are braced for as many as 80% of Britons becoming infected with the coronavirus over that time.
“For the public to hear that it could last for 12 months, people are going to be really upset about that and pretty worried about that”, said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.
The briefing raises questions about how Britain would continue to function normally, warning that: “It is estimated that at least 10% of people in the UK will have a cough at any one time during the months of peak Covid-19 activity.” Under revised health advice Boris Johnson unveiled last Thursday, anyone with a cough should self-isolate for at least seven days.
From now on only the very seriously ill who are already in hospital and people in care homes and prisons where the coronavirus has been detected will get tested.
Until a vaccine is developed, perhaps in 18 months, health planners cannot be sure of being able to protect people from the disease.