TEN thousand Londoners are testing positive for Covid every day, a health chief has warned.
The capital has been at the epicentre of the pandemic’s second wave – and officials say a super-infectious mutant strain will stop cases falling as quickly.
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Some 10,000 Londoners are testing positive for Covid every day, health chiefs sayCredit: PA:Press Association
Hospitals are being pushed to breaking point under the frightening surge – although academics say the R-rate in the capital has dropped to 0.6Credit: London News Pictures
11 boroughs have more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people
And while academics say the crucial R-rate may be as low as 0.6 in the city, the number of people catching the deadly virus is still “extremely high”.
Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England said: “Case rates in London remain extremely high and around 10,000 Londoners were diagnosed with Covid every day this week.
“This level of transmission is severe, and continues to drive pressure on the NHS, with more Londoners being admitted to ICU and ultimately dying of this disease or having long-term complications.
“As a result, we have more difficult weeks ahead of us.
“This more contagious variant means we are unlikely to see sharp declines like we did in the first wave, and the longer cases remain high, the more deaths we will see.
“That is why we must work twice as hard to reduce transmission and lower infections.
“Staying at home and cutting our contacts will stop the virus spreading, reduce cases more quickly and ultimately save lives.”
It comes as:
Officials believe the second wave peaked in the capital on January 4 – the start of the national lockdown – when 1,117.1 new cases were recorded per 100,000 Londoners.
Cases are now beginning to drop. As of January 9, the rate was 993.4 per 100,000.
However, 17 boroughs continue to have a seven-day infection rate of more than 1,000 new cases per 100,000.
Meanwhile, almost 10,000 new infections were announced yesterday, and 7,840 people are being treated for the virus in hospitals.
Of that number, 1,163 are on ventilators.
The number of people diagnosed with the disease is falling in every region of England, according to data on the Government coronavirus dashboard
In London, the R-rate is as low as 0.6, academics say
Hospitals in the city are fast reaching crisis point under the strain – amid reports medics are being forced to choose who gets critical care.
Doctors are reportedly triaging patients for critical care, with younger patients in the queue ahead of older people admitted.
And there are now more patients who have confirmed Covid in acute hospitals than those who are being admitted with other needs.
The HSJ reports that on January 11, the number of Covid patients in adult hospital beds exceeded those without the illness for the first time since the spring – at 5,644 to 5,592.
It comes as researchers from Cambridge University estimate that up to 36 per cent of Londoners may have already had the virus – the highest of any region in the UK.
And the mutant strain – which is up to 70 per cent more infectious – will prevent new cases from dropping as they did after the peak of the first wave.
But there is some hope as cases drop in 22 boroughs.
London’s 10 worst and least hit boroughs
The capital’s infection hotspots, and the places where the fewest cases were recorded
Barking and Dagenham, 1,415.2 cases per 100,000 people
Tower Hamlets, 1,044.2
Richmond upon Thames, 463.1 per 100,000 people
Kingston upon Thames, 596.0
Kensington and Chelsea, 650.7
Hammersmith and Fulham, 696.2
Havering recorded the biggest drop of 25.4 per cent week-on-week, with Bromley in second place with a 25 per cent plunge, and Kingston in third with a 21.8 per cent decrease.
Richmond, Sutton, Redbridge and Merton were among the areas to record drops.
At the other end of the scale, Ealing saw a rise of 12.9 per cent, with Lambeth just behind, recording a 12.2 per cent surge.
Nationally, the death toll for the second wave has now exceeded that recorded during the first, with more than 1,000 fatalities three days in a row.
And deaths are yet to peak, experts say, after a staggering 1,248 fatalities were recorded yesterday – more than seven per cent higher than last Thursday.
However, across the UK, infections are beginning to decrease.
A further 48,682 new cases were reported yesterday – down 7.5 per cent on last Thursday’s figure.
And new cases are tumbling in every age group – except, crucially, the over-80s.
The data – from the Department of Health – suggests cases have been dwindling even before the third lockdown was implemented last month.