Boris Johnson tells Covid truthers to ‘grow up’

NHS boss says hospital misinformation is an ‘insult’ to nurses

Sam Hancock
Thursday 07 January 2021 19:07 GMT
Covid conspiracy theorists ‘need to grow up’, says Johnson

Boris Johnson has told coronavirus conspiracy theorists to “grow up” after false rumours on social media that hospitals are in fact empty.

“The kind of people who stand outside hospitals and say Covid is a hoax really need to grow up," the prime minister said at a Downing Street news conference.

“We’ve heard eloquently now, from the head of NHS England, about the pressure the NHS is under,” Mr Johnson told reporters and the public, “and we’ve all got to do our bit responsibly now to protect it.”

It comes as the head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, who stood alongside Mr Johnson and Brigadier Phil Prosser at the news event, said there were 50 per cent more Covid inpatients in England’s hospitals now than in the April peak.

Hospitals in London alone are now seeing over 800 patients a day admitted with coronavirus, he revealed, which is “the equivalent of a new St Thomas’ hospital, full of Covid-patients, everyday”.

Follow the latest news as the UK’s death count exceeds 1,000 again

Sir Simon also took the time to condemn fake news being spread on social media, saying claims that hospitals are not under pressure from the rising coronavirus cases were simply a “lie”. 

The NHS boss said such misinformation was not only changing behaviour in a way that could kill people, but is an “insult” to staff working in critical care.

“There is nothing more demoralising than having that kind of nonsense spouted when it is most obviously untrue,” he said at the virtual press briefing.

NHS figures, as of 8am on Thursday, showed that the number of Covid-19 patients in Britain’s hospitals stood at a record 28,246 – up 25 per cent from last week. 

The latest data also had the UK’s death toll above 1,000 for the second day in a row, making it the second-highest daily death count since the start of the pandemic. 

Proving just how inundated hospitals are, across all regions in England, St George’s Hospital in Tooting, southwest London, has said it had to vastly expand its intensive care capacity – and move staff without specialist training to high dependency roles in an effort to tackle the workload.

Dr Mark Haden, an emergency department consultant, told the PA news agency on Wednesday that staff were struggling to keep up the “business as normal” facade they had worked so hard to achieve. 

“Everyone’s stress levels are higher than usual. Everyone is working to the limit, to the threshold of what they’re able to,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that staff shortages have seen nurses usually assigned to one patient now having to deal with up to four casualties at one time.

During the press conference at No 10 this evening, Mr Johnson stressed that the pandemic is a “national challenge like we have never seen before” and that the only way Britain can overcome it is with “an unprecedented national effort”.

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