England, currently gripped by a newer, more infectious strain of the coronavirus, has reported a new record high for hospitalizations from the virus.
As of Monday morning, English hospitals reported 20,426 coronavirus patients, nearly 2,000 more than the April 12 peak of 18,974, The Associated Press reported.
The new variant has put the United Kingdom “back in the eye of the storm,” National Health Service Chief Executive Simon Stevens said.
"Many of us have lost family, friends, colleagues and — at a time of year when we would normally be celebrating — a lot of people are understandably feeling anxious, frustrated and tired,” he said, according in a video message Monday. “And now again we are back in the eye of the storm with a second wave of coronavirus sweeping Europe and, indeed, this country."
‘Sometimes the worst circumstances bring out the best in people.’— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) December 28, 2020
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens reflects on how the toughest year has shown the best of the NHS, his praise for the remarkable staff and great sense of hope for the new year. #ThankYouNHS pic.twitter.com/GoEd9k25Gu
However, he expressed confidence that the NHS will have been able to vaccinate all vulnerable populations by late spring.
Public health experts in both the U.K. and abroad have said that while the new strain is more contagious, it does not appear to be any deadlier and existing vaccines will likely be equally effective against it. Numerous countries have barred travel from the U.K., although the U.S. is not among them.
Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWatch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing Intercept reporters discuss gain-of-function research The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration MORE, the United States' top infectious diseases expert, has suggested it would be an overreaction to bar travel outright but said the strain should be taken “very seriously.”
I think it's prudent and a good idea to do some form of testing, and not let somebody on the plane from the U.K. unless they have a documented negative COVID-19 test,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union” over the weekend.