A secret document from Public Health England (PHE) used in a briefing for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) said that COVID-19 is expected to last until the spring of 2021 in the United Kingdom and could lead to 7.9 million hospitalizations there, according to The Guardian.
PHE expects 80% of those in the U.K. to be infected with the virus over the course of the next year, The Guardian reported. The revelation represents the first major indication of an expectation among health authorities that the coronavirus crisis will last longer than a few months.
Chief medical adviser in the U.K., Chris Whitty, has put forward the 80% figure as a worst-case scenario, but has suggested that there remains a good chance that the actual numbers will be much lower, The Guardian reported.
“I think it will dip in the summer, towards the end of June, and come back in November, in the way that usual seasonal flu does,” professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia Paul Hunter told the Guardian. “I think it will be around forever, but become less severe over time, as immunity builds up.”
UK cases rise
Currently, the coronavirus has infected 1,543 people across the U.K., which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. 36 have died from the virus thus far.
The document from PHE suggested that 500,000 of the five million essential workers in the nation could be out sick at any given time during the outbreak.
Testing difficulties and high laboratory demand are also concerns that are putting great pressure on the system, the document said, resulting in only a fraction of those with symptoms actually undergoing tests. If the coronavirus mortality rate estimate of 1% is accurate, rougly half a million people in the U.K. would die before the crisis abates, according to PHE calculations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised the citizenry to self-isolate for seven days even if the only symptom they have is a cough, The Guardian reported.
Representatives from the NHS said that a peak is expected in mid-May to early June, and that the hope is to slow the spread of the illness in order to help hospitals focus on the most severely affected patients.
Trump extends travel ban
President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the existing restrictions on travelers from Europe would be extended to include the U.K. and Ireland.
“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said, according to ABC News.
Italy has been the hardest-hit European country so far, where overwhelmed practitioners are increasingly faced with the excruciating decision of which patients will be given a chance to live and which will be denied such treatment, The Atlantic reports.