Covid: Hospitals could be overwhelmed without new tiers
Health / Sat 28th Nov 2020 at 08:04am
HOSPITALS in England could become “overwhelmed” with Covid cases if MPs do not back new restrictions, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said.
Many Tory MPs oppose the tougher tier system, which begins on 2 December.
But writing in the Times, Mr Gove said MPs – who will vote on the measures next week – need to “take responsibility for difficult decisions”.
Labour is yet to decide whether it will support the new restrictions.
It has warned, however, that areas in tier three will be stretched to “breaking point” without further financial support from the Treasury.
When England’s four-week national lockdown ends on Wednesday, regions will be placed in one of three tiers: medium, high and very high.
In total, 99% of England will enter the highest two tiers, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly will be in the lowest tier.
Some MPs say the new system imposes tight restrictions on numerous areas with low cases, and are calling instead for a more localised approach.
But Mr Gove has defended the new system, saying that, unless action to slow the spread of coronavirus is taken, the NHS could be “broken” and hospitals “physically overwhelmed”.
“The tiers we had in place before the lockdown had not suppressed [Covid] sufficiently: they were neither strong enough to reduce social contact sufficiently, nor applied widely enough to contain the virus’s spread,” he wrote.
He added that, across the UK, about 16,000 beds are filled with Covid-19 patients, compared to a peak in April of almost 20,000 and a low of 740 on 11 September.
“When the country is facing such a national crisis, the truth is that all of us who have been elected to Parliament, not just ministers, must take responsibility for difficult decisions,” he said.
Elsewhere in the UK, Northern Ireland has begun a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown, while in Scotland each area has been placed in one of five tiers.
Lockdown restrictions in Wales were eased on 9 November. Under the current rules, up to 15 people can meet for organised activities indoors and businesses can reopen.
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