British health officials are reactivating field hospitals that were set up at the start of the pandemic to deal with the increase in cases of covid-19. The spread of the disease is putting available beds under “extreme pressure”, particularly in London.
The UK has recorded more than 50,000 new daily cases of the virus in the past four days, caused in part by a new variant that is far more infectious, and an increase in the number of people who are dying each day.
Doctors warned that they are still struggling to cope with the outbreak, especially when so many colleagues are sick or in need of isolation and paramedics and nurses have to treat patients in ambulances due to a lack of available beds.
An email sent to Royal London Hospital officials said they were now operating under “disaster medicine mode”. A spokeswoman for the National Health Service (NHS) said the Nightingale hospital in London was being prepared to reopen if necessary.
“Anticipating the pressures that the spread of the new strain of infection has spread, the NHS in the London region has been asked to reactivate Nightingale, ensuring that it is ready to admit patients if necessary,” she said. “This process is ongoing.”
The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticized for frequent reversals during the pandemic, including delaying the lockdown during the first wave of March and abandoning a system for assigning school grades without exams.
Britain is battling a new wave of the virus that has already killed more than 74,000 people and crushed the economy. One of the worst-affected countries in the world, it recorded 53,285 cases in the past 24 hours on Friday and 613 new deaths.