A senior GP in East Lancashire has said “it feels almost like being in a warzone” amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the north of England.
Leaders have warned that the second wave is “getting out of control” in the region, where the number of hospital admissions is approaching the levels seen during the initial peak of the pandemic.
As of Thursday 8 October, there were 3,837 people in hospital across the country, while 12,872 new cases were reported on Sunday.
No 10 has warned that the UK is now at a “critical juncture” for controlling the spread of Covid-19, with Boris Johnson expected to lay out a new three-tier alert system that could see pubs and restaurants closed across the north.
East Lancashire is one of the regions expected to be affected by the new measures, with the borough of Burnley currently in the top 10 worst hit places in England.
Dr Fiona Ford, who chairs an NHS network of general practices in Accrington, said that GPs in the area were “struggling” to cope with the ongoing rise in cases.
“I was on a call with our practices in central Accrington this morning and all of them are struggling with the very rapidly rising numbers of cases of Covid,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.
“Up to now, in between the two peaks, we’ve had a chance where when people tested positive, we were notified in the practices and the practices could ring up the patients, see if they needed anything, get support for them, all of that. But we’ve now come to a situation where one practice for instance had 70-odd cases notified to them in one day.
“So we’re really creaking at the seams in trying to actually cope with the number of positives coming in.”
Dr Ford said that the situation was now as bad as it had been during the “worst” of the first wave in spring.
“At the moment, it feels almost like being in a war zone without adequate tools to actually affect that,” she said.
“No we’re not overwhelmed, but we may be overwhelmed sometimes emotionally in coping with this when we’re getting lists of positive tests every day, they’re getting more and more all the time and how can we actually know what is happening to our families out there.”
She added that the introduction of pub closures was going to be unlikely to stop the spread of Covid-19 among the wider community in East Lancashire, where transmission has been traced back to overcrowded households.
“What our public health advisors have been saying is that this second peak is likely to be higher and last longer,” she warned.