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UK discloses record number of deaths as NHS risks being 'overwhelmed'

Boris Johnson said NHS staff were being placed under colossal strain by the pandemic.

Image: PA

HOSPITAL INTENSIVE CARE units face being overwhelmed unless coronavirus rates are brought under control, Boris Johnson admitted.

Johnson said there was a “very substantial” risk that ICUs would be unable to cope if numbers kept increasing.

His stark warning came as the daily reported death toll reached a new high, with 1,564 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive test.

The latest figures mean the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.

Johnson said: “If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that.

“But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.”

The latest official figures on the coronavirus dashboard show more than 36,000 people are in hospital with coronavirus, including almost 3,500 on ventilation.

Johnson told the Commons Liaison Committee that “the situation is very, very tough indeed in the NHS” and “the strain is colossal” on staff.

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He also acknowledged concerns about a new Brazilian variant of coronavirus, although he did not announce a ban on travel from the South American country.

“We already have tough measures… to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad,” he said.

“We are taking steps to do that in respect of the Brazilian variant.”

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