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"Most dangerous time" of coronavirus pandemic yet to come in UK: chief medical officer

(Xinhua)    09:06, January 12, 2021

LONDON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The "most dangerous time" of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain has yet to come before vaccine rollout has an impact, Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty warned Monday.

The next few weeks will be "the worst" of the pandemic for the National Health Service (NHS), he told the BBC, urging the public to minimize all unnecessary contact with others.

"There's a very high chance that if you meet someone unnecessarily they will have COVID," he said, noting that any unnecessary contact could be a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.

According to Whitty, there were more than 30,000 people in hospitals in England alone with COVID-19, compared to about 18,000 at the peak last April.

"Anybody who is not shocked" by the number of people in hospital "has not understood this at all", he said.

"This is an appalling situation," he added.

Also on Monday, Londoners were warned there is "a very high chance" they will meet people carrying COVID-19 after the crisis in the British capital hit a new peak.

Some 19 of the capital's 32 boroughs are now recording more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 population over a seven day period, a level that was unheard of in early December, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

Around one in 20 people have COVID in London's worst hit boroughs, Whitty said today. He warned, "There is a very high chance that, if you meet someone unnecessarily, they will have COVID."

Whitty made the statement after Britain surpassed the grim milestones of 3,000,000 cases and 80,000 deaths on Saturday.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Monday that this is the "worst point" of the pandemic so far and urged people to keep following lockdown rules in the country.

Hancock told a virtual press conference at Downing Street that Britain is on track to offer the first dose of vaccine to everyone in top four priority groups by mid-February.

It's still not known how much people who have had vaccine can transmit COVID to others, he said.

He warned Sunday that flexing the lockdown rules "could be fatal", urging the public to stay at home amid surging coronavirus infections.

"Every time you try to flex the rules that could be fatal" and staying at home was the "most important thing we can do collectively as a society", Hancock said.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the pandemic began in the country. To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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