Highest ever Covid cases are 'mild compared to what's coming next week' and NHS must prepare for a surge, top doc warns

THE record levels of coronavirus cases seen this week are "mild" compared with where they are expected to be next week, a top doctor has said.

It comes amid reports that hospitals across the UK have been told to prepare for a surge similar to that currently being seen in London and the southeast of England.

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Today saw the UK record its largest daily jump in cases since the start of the pandemic, with 57,725 positive tests reported.

It was the fifth day in a row that the figure had topped 50,000 and brought the total number of positive tests in Britain to 2,599,789.

A further 445 deaths were also recorded, bringing the overall toll to 74,570.

The week also saw reports of London hospitals being overwhelmed by admissions and intensive care patients having to "compete" for ventilators.

Concern also remains that the coming week will see a further surge of cases after the mixing of families over Christmas and amid the spread of the new strain of the virus.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Andrew Goddard, of the Royal College of Physicians, said the current case count was "mild" compared with where it will likely be next week.

"There's no doubt that Christmas is going to have a big impact," he said.

"The new variant is also going to have a big impact, we know that is more infectious, more transmissible.

"So I think the large numbers that we're seeing in the South East, in London, in south Wales, is now going to be reflected over the next month, two months even, over the rest of the country.

"It seems very likely that we are going to see more and more cases, wherever people work in the UK, and we need to be prepared for that."

He added that many of his colleagues are "really worried" about the expected surge.

It comes after a senior doctor at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust in London yesterday warned that January and February are set to be "the most difficult and awful months that most healthcare workers will have faced ever in their careers".

Speaking to ITN, Dr Megan Smith said: "We're already… higher than the peak that we had back in March and April.

"[And] the patients that we're seeing now were infected two or three weeks ago.

"So the patients that we will see as a result of the relaxation of the rules around Christmas, and people just not necessarily observing the rules properly as well, we'll see them in two or three weeks time."

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