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People with flu twice as likely to die from COVID, head of NHS warns

Connor Parker
·3-min read
NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens during a media briefing in Downing Street. (PA)
NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens during a media briefing in Downing Street. (PA)

The head of the NHS has warned people with flu are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 and urged everyone to get a jab.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said 2.5 million more people had got their flu job compared to the same time last year.

He said “We are doing very well, thanks to the brilliant work of GPs in expanding flu vaccine uptake this winter.

“Which is so important given that if you have flu and coronavirus at the same time you are twice as likely to die from coronavirus than you otherwise would.”

Watch: Coronavirus: Four weeks of England lockdown 'enough to make a real impact', says PM

Sir Simon warned: “This second wave of coronavirus is real and it’s serious.

“The health service has been working incredibly hard to prepare and to catch up on the care that was disrupted during the first wave

Sir Simon said: “11,000 coronavirus patients that we have got in hospital compares with 3,000 patients that we would typically have in hospital on any one day during a very bad winter flu season, for flu.

“It compares with about 7,000 patients who’d be in hospital today being looked after for cancer.”

Sir Simon Stevens said around 30,000 staff in the health service were either off with coronavirus or having to self-isolate, and “that has an impact”.

That underlined the need to control the spread of coronavirus in order to protect the care that could be offered in the NHS, he said.

Read more: Global COVID daily deaths set to outstrip first wave within days

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street. (PA)

“Our success in controlling community transmission of coronavirus also is a force multiplier, to what the NHS itself can then provide in the way of care,” he said.

The UK is facing a tough situation over winter as all four nations enter their own lockdowns with cases rising everywhere.

It would be a nightmare scenario if there was a bad flu season while most of the NHS was occupied with combatting coronavirus.

England entered into a second lockdown on Thursday after a steep rise in cases and hospitalisations.

Sir Simon said the current number of people in hospital in England was equivalent 22 hospitals.

He said if he could show the nation “just one chart” he would show them the increase in hospitalisations for coronavirus patients in recent months, which he said showed “indisputable” evidence of the need to control the virus.

Read more: Fears new ‘prison-style’ care home rules will leave vulnerable people distressed

Chart shared by the head of the NHS Simon Stevens show hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients in recent months. (UK Government)
Chart shared by the head of the NHS Simon Stevens show hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients in recent months. (UK Government)

The graph showed there were below 500 patients with coronavirus in hospital in late August but has since risen to a high of 11,037 on 4 November.

Boris Johnson has said the four-week coronavirus lockdown in England will be enough to have a “real impact” on the spread of the disease.

The Prime Minister said that while many people were “anxious, weary and fed up” the measures were strictly time-limited.

He said: “The advice I have received suggests that four weeks is enough for these measures to make a real impact,” he said.

“These rules will expire and on December 2 we plan to move back to a tiered approach. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

“These are difficult times. While it pains me to have to ask once again once again for so many to give up so much, I know we can get through this.”

Some 137,180 people tested positive for coronavirus in England in the week to 28 October, an increase of 8% compared to the previous week.

There were 492 deaths from COVID-19 in the UK on Wednesday the highest since 19 May.

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