Coronavirus admissions to hospital and intensive care units have spiked dramatically in recent weeks, shocking new figures show.
Data unveiled by Boris Johnson at a Number 10 press conference showed the number of intensive care admissions rise dramatically in almost every age group and region.
At a press conference alongside Chief Medical Office Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister said he had announced new lockdown measures last week because the number of Covid patients going into hospital had doubled.
Professor Whitty said the number of ICU admissions was clearly going “in the wrong direction” – but he insisted the NHS was “open for business” and urged people not to avoid medical care.
Mr Johnson said: “I wish I could tell you tonight that the impact of this package had already begun to appear.
“But it will take time to feed through.”
He said he would be providing “regular updates through these press conferences” and that he was confident that the country would “get through this.”
He urged the public to follow the rules, warning tougher measures may follow if they don’t.
He said: “No matter how impatient we may be, no matter how fed up we become, there is only one way to do this, and that is to show collective forbearance.
“I have to be clear, that if the evidence requires it we will not hesitate to take further measures that would, I’m afraid, be more costly than the ones we’ve put into effect now.”
The Prime Minister said the country was at a “critical moment” and that he would not hesitate to a bring in new measures if required.
“If we put in the work together now then we give ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding that outcome and avoiding further measures,” he said.
“I know some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail.
“I have to say I profoundly disagree. I don’t think that is what the British people want. I don’t think they want to throw in the sponge. They want to fight and defeat this virus and that is what we are going to do.”
Meanwhile, the number of young people testing positive continues to rise, particularly in those aged between 17 and 21.
But the rate of positive tests among younger children remains broadly the same, which Professor Whitty said showed the low risk to school-aged children.
It came as the UK registered more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day running.
Another 71 deaths were also reported, the same number as Tuesday, meaning the death toll now stands at 42,143.
Earlier Boris Johnson was forced to defend his confusion over his own lockdown rules at Prime Minister’s Questions as Keir Starmer said he was “not surprised” by the gaffe.
The PM yesterday appeared to get the facts of his own local lockdown rules wrong before being forced into an embarrassing apology.