Coronavirus patients in their 40s are being put on ventilators as Matt Hancock says the NHS will cancel or delay non-emergency operations to help free up staff and beds to help cope as death toll rises
- All elective surgery not time sensitive will either be cancelled or postponed
- Hancock told MPs this evening: ‘We are in a war against an invisible killer’
- Death toll in UK from coronavirus has now passed 50
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The NHS is calling off all non-emergency operations to free up resources to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hancock told MPs today.
As the UK death toll passed 50 the Health Secretary said all elective surgery that was not time sensitive would either be cancelled or postponed as the health service gears up for the worst of the pandemic.
The news came as it emerged patients in their 40s with coronavirus are being put on ventilators in hospital.
Mr Hancock told a hushed Commons that ventilators were key to treating those suffering the worst effects of the disease and the Government has asked manufacturers to step up efforts to help in the production of kit needed.
He said: ‘The measures that I’ve just outlined are unprecedented in peacetime.
‘We will fight this virus with everything we’ve got.
‘We are in a war against an invisible killer and we’ve got to do everything we can to stop it.’
As the UK death toll passed 50 the Health Secretary said all elective surgery that was not time sensitive would either be cancelled or postponed
He told a hushed Commons that ventilators were key to treating those suffering the worst effects of the disease and the Government has asked manufacturers to step up efforts to help in the production of kit needed.
It came as Boris Johnson plunged Britain into an extraordinary lockdown today – urging everyone in the country to stop all ‘non-essential’ contact with others.
A further 19 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths in England to 53, NHS England said.
There has also been one death in Wales and one in Scotland bringing the total number of deaths in the UK to 55.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We will be cancelling or postponing non-time sensitive elective surgery and the NHS will make a statement about this later today.’
The PM warned that the coronavirus was now in a phase of rapid spread across the UK, with London seeing a particular surge, and it was time to take radical action to stop the NHS being swamped.
Everyone should avoid contact that is not absolutely necessary – with restaurants, bars and cinemas and travel off limits, and an end to large gatherings. Admitting that the squeeze could last 12 weeks, Mr Johnson acknowledged he was ‘asking a lot’.
Entire households should self-isolate for two weeks if one person has been showing symptoms, and older people should prepare to stay away from risks for months to come. He said that meant ‘you should not go out, even to buy food or essentials’.
Mr Hancock said people should ‘still go to work’ if they are healthy and not being asked to isolate due to them or a member of their household having symptoms of the virus.
He told MPs: ‘It’s important this country keeps moving as much as we possibly can within the limits of the advice that we have given.’
On the shielding measures for the elderly and most vulnerable, he said: ‘For those who have significant health conditions, the NHS will be in contact with you over the next week.
‘We’ll publish a list of those conditions and if you think you should have been contacted and you haven’t by next week, then get in contact with the NHS.’