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 new variant has put the U.K. “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.”
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 Fauci, the nation’s 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.