UK Health Minister, Matt Hancock has confirmed that COVID-19 patients could be sent to hotels to free up hospital beds to relieve pressure on the National Health Service which is on the brink of becoming overwhelmed.
“There are huge pressures on the NHS and, as you’d expect, we’re looking to all different ways that we can relieve those pressures,” Hancock told Sky News broadcaster when asked about media reports saying that patients would be discharged earlier from hospitals.
He said, however, that such steps would only be taken if it is clinically right to do it, because in some cases, “people need step-down care and do not need to be in a hospital bed.”
As of Tuesday, there were 35,000 COVID-19 patients in hospital across the UK, up around 20 percent compared to past week and the largest number since the pandemic began.
When pressed to give an exact date for the lifting of the current lockdown, Hancock admitted that “it is impossible to know”, saying that restrictions will be in place “not a moment longer than they are necessary, but as long as they necessary.”
He added that the vaccine rollout program “is going really” well and that the government is on track to deliver the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines to the four groups who are most vulnerable by February 15.
The UK has recorded so far over 3.1 million COVID-19 cases and 83,201 death since the beginning of the pandemic.