Three counties in and around London have become the hot spots for infection rates in the UK – up to 1 in 15 people had the virus in one area alone.
London's Barking and Dagenham, the neighboring borough of Redbridge, and the Thurrock commuter area in Essex are all affected by a serious outbreak of the new mutant strain of Covid, figures show.
Eye-opening data shows that Barking and Dagenham are the hardest hit area in the country for infection rates, with 1,708 cases per 100,000 people.
Redbridge is the second worst affected area in terms of infection rate with 1,571 cases per 100,000 population, while Thurrock is third on the list, according to the latest government figures, with a rate of 1,566 cases per 100,000.
Separate data from the Office of National Statistics Infection Survey, which comes from households only, shows that about 1 in 15 people in the Redbridge district had Covid in the past week.
Nationally, one in 50 people across England is said to have had Covid-19 last week, the government previously announced.
Health chiefs and MPs in east London have now warned that hospital services could overflow due to the increase in Covid patients
A medical professional told the Sunday Times the situation was worse last week than any other time in the pandemic.
The new numbers also show that Barking and Dagenham, Thurrock and Redbridge are the three most affected areas with Covid infection rates, but several other neighboring counties are also in the top 10.
Newham and Havering in east London are also among the hardest hit, with one case per 100,000 rates over 1,400.
Epping Forest, Castle Point and Harlow in Essex and Broxbourne across the border in Hetfordshire are also represented, again all at rates per 100,000 over 1,400.
In a worrying sign of how fast the virus is spreading, figures for Barking and Dagenham show that there were 300 cases per 100,000 people in the region four weeks ago.
Public health officials say the outbreaks in areas like Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham could be caused by a combination of factors.
The 10 hardest hit areas for Covid in England as measured by the infection rate per 100,000 as of Sunday January 10th
Bellen and Dagenham: 1,708.3
Epping Forest: 1,519.5
Castle Point: 1,449.5
However, they say high density apartments could be one of the main reasons. Redbridge is one of the most deprived and ethnically diverse regions in the country.
A government study earlier this year found that black, Asian, and minority groups were at higher risk of catching and dying from Covid than white people because of their work and where they live.
The surge in cases has sparked warnings from health chiefs about the added pressure on health services in the areas.
According to the Sunday Times, the heads of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel in London's East End told staff that the "Disaster Medicine" mode would be activated.
Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge warned the Prime Minister this week that the demand for oxygen at Queen & # 39; s Hospital in Romford, east London, is 100 percent or more of the available supply.
Dr. Simon Tavabie, who works in a major hospital in east London, told the newspaper his colleagues were "exhausted".
He said, "I specialize in palliative care so I'm pretty used to taking care of people who are coming towards the end of their lives and even I felt overwhelmed by the crowd dying from this disease."
The numbers come as "Professor Lockdown" Neil Ferguson revealed today that London may already have herd immunity to the coronavirus, which will help bring life back to normal by autumn.
Ferguson, whose dire predictions of 500,000 deaths in the UK convinced the government to go through the first lockdown, told the Sunday Times that he believed there would be a slowdown in infection rates, and possibly a decline.
He said, “That may be helped somewhat by the fact that there is quite a bit of herd immunity in places like London. Maybe 25 percent or 30 percent of the population are now infected in the first and second waves.
"So that helps reduce transmission."
He also predicted that north-west England – another area where large numbers were infected – could also be on the way to herd immunity.
Herd immunity policies, which allow the virus to spread through the population so that people develop immunity to the virus, was originally touted by some high-level government officials, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Ferguson, whose dire predictions of 500,000 deaths in the UK convinced the government to go through the first lockdown, now says he is "optimistic" about the country's future in 2021 when vaccines are introduced
However, when the potential cost to people's lives from prosecuting such police was exposed, and Ferguson said that up to 500,000 people could die, the government changed its approach.
Like many scientists, Ferguson believes that herd immunity to Covid-19 should be achieved through the delivery of vaccines to the population, not through the spread of the virus.
With the UK one of the hardest hit countries in the world in terms of the number of cases and now three vaccines approved for use, herd immunity is getting closer, according to the professor.
His comments came as Chris Whitty warned today that hospitals are facing "worst crisis in living memory" as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
In a damning article for the Sunday Times, he warned those who do not take the lockdown seriously "causing preventable deaths".
According to the chairman of the British Medical Association, Chaand Nagpaul, nearly 50,000 hospital workers are currently suffering from Covid-19.
And in a grim warning, Professor Ferguson said the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals will drop by 20 percent.
"Avoiding another 20,000 deaths will be quite difficult," he added.
Meanwhile, a further 1,035 people were reported to have died of Covid yesterday, on the deadliest Saturday since April 18.
The total number of Covid fatalities since the pandemic started yesterday was 80,000. This makes the UK the fifth worst country in the world for Covid deaths after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
The total was up 132.5 percent from the 445 deaths recorded Saturday last week, and was the highest Saturday number since April 18.
& # 39; I was blown away. I didn't think I'd make it & # 39;: Covid patients talk about the intensive care unit in footage showing emotional medics in the crowded London hospital
A nurse at UCH, Ashleigh, announced that they are being forced to prioritize their care, which will inevitably lead to a lower standard of care
Shocking footage from an intensive care unit revealed the extent of the coronavirus crisis and the strain on the NHS.
Emotional doctors and nurses struggled at London's University College Hospital as they tended to the growing numbers of coronavirus patients.
Operating theaters and some children's rooms have even been converted into intensive care units to cope with the ever growing number of patients.
The harrowing footage comes the same day the UK has injured 1,000 Covid-related deaths since the virus peaked in April.
Figures from the Ministry of Health show that a whopping 1,041 people have died from the effects of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
Footage filmed by the BBC showed the alarming reality in hospital wards.
One patient, Attila, 67, spoke about the trauma of suffering from the virus.
He said, & # 39; I was blown away. I didn't think I would make it. There is no oxygen around. It's very scary. & # 39;
In a positive sign, the upward curve could in some cases offset another 59,937 people who tested positive, an increase of just 3.8 percent from last Saturday.
Most hospitals struggle with supplying the staff necessary to properly treat critically ill patients.
In Kent, the origin of the British Covid tribe that quickly overwhelmed London and the South East, 25 percent of clinical and administrative staff are reported to be sick, making vaccinations difficult to give.
Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "There is enough right now to supply the limited supplies we have.
"But we certainly don't have enough manpower to run a much larger program in two or three weeks while we continue the flu vaccination program and conduct normal business in general practice."
It comes after the scene in the crowded intensive care unit at St. George & # 39; s Hospital in Tooting, South West London, was captured in a series of photographs. The doctors and nurses announced that the unit has now doubled in size.
Shaken workers at London's largest hospital say they are "working to the limit" of their abilities, battling low morals, exhausting shift patterns and the prospect of the worst to come.
NHS London Medical Director Vin Diwakar warned medics that even if coronavirus patients were least likely to grow and increase hospital capacity – including the opening of the Nightingale at the ExCel Center – the NHS would still have 2,000 beds for general, Acute and intensive care units would be missing. The HSJ reports by January 19.
In St. George & # 39; s they see seriously ill patients in their twenties because of the new Covid strain – and bosses fear that there will be an exodus of employees when the third lockdown ends at Easter.
Staff at London's University College Hospital told the BBC that they need to decide which patients to prioritize after a surge in young people struggled for their lives and needed ventilators.
Dr. Mark Haden, St. George Emergency Department advisor, said, “Everyone is more stressed than usual. Everyone works at the limit, on the threshold of what they can do. The occupancy of the hospital bed is very, very high, there are currently many Covid patients as inpatients. & # 39;
The press association was given access to the intensive care unit, where Ms. Cooper said, “Our work is currently very little fun.
"It's hard to find that joy when you come to work – you fear for your co-workers, your families, and yourself."
In St. George & # 39; s, they see seriously ill patients in their twenties as the new Covid strain hits the country
A nurse treats 64-year-old patient Peter Watts in the emergency room at St. George & # 39; s Hospital in Tooting, London's largest hospital
NHS statistics show that people under the age of 40 rarely die from Covid-19. 100 of the 17,572 deaths in November and December in this age group
She said some employees had to be sent home to take time off because of the unprecedented pressures at work, while others continued to fight despite being unable to see family overseas for almost a year.
And Ms. Cooper said she was concerned about the legacy of coronavirus among emergency room workers.
"There's only so much that you can come in and watch an unprecedented number of healthy people die before they are hit," she said.
“Our employees will have an impact on mental health for a long time to come.
“We are very resilient and adaptable. That is part of being in the emergency room. We love that. But this will have a lasting impact on the employees and that is what worries me because I cannot see how we are going to help that because it is an impact that cannot be seen on anyone but is very noticeable.
Intensive care counselor Mohamed Ahmed said he saw the staff tearfully at the end of their shift while some decided they could no longer come to work.
Dr. Ahmed, 40, said: “After the first wave we had quite a few employees who resigned. They couldn't handle it.
“We had nurses who all had their family members abroad and of course they couldn't see them, so they couldn't get that support. It was extremely difficult.
“We have had a lot of illnesses, so we have had situations where very good nurses have to work for anyone who cannot come in. This is one of those situations you never want to put your people in. & # 39;
When asked how many more employees could tolerate, Dr. Ahmed: “As you say, the wobbly space has been stretched so much. Mostly, however, we are programmed in such a way that we can handle everything. But it would stretch us beyond our limits. & # 39;