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Cold health alert issued with flooding set to continue

The UK Health Security Agency and Met Office have issued an amber cold health alert for parts of England to January 12 at noon.

PA Reporter
Sunday 07 January 2024 13:24 GMT
Flood warnings remain in place as cold weather alert issued

An amber cold health alert has been issued for parts of England throughout the week as temperatures are set to plummet.

It comes as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for ice on Monday across London and the south east from 4am to 10am with a forecast of “temperatures near zero” later on Sunday.

Many regions are also still trying to cope with flooding following heavy rainfall in recent days.

By Sunday lunchtime, the Environment Agency (EA) said there were 172 flood warnings and 176 flood alerts in England.

The amber cold health alert (CHA) for the North West of England, West Midlands, East Midlands and South West of England, issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office, runs until 12pm on Friday January 12.

An amber alert means “cold weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service for an extended period of time”.

There is also a yellow cold health alert in place for the North East of England, Yorkshire and The Humber, East of England, South East of England and London.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “With the Met Office forecasting drops in temperature across the United Kingdom into next week, it is important to check in on the wellbeing of those most vulnerable to the cold.”

The cold weather can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections and can have a serious health impact for older people and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Dr Sousa added: “Temperatures are expected to turn particularly cold overnight, as we would expect at this time of year.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65 it is important to try and heat the rooms where you spend most of your time, such as your living room or bedroom, in the coming days.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “flooding has been having a devastating impact on communities up and down the country” as he spoke to affected residents in Oxford on their doorsteps before visiting EA workers at their depot on Osney Island.

Addressing the media in front of the fast-moving River Thames, Mr Sunak said: “Flooding has been having a devastating impact on communities up and down the country.

“I was in the East Midlands last week on Thursday and I’m in Oxfordshire here today talking to some of those that have been affected, but also saying thank you to our first responders who were doing a fantastic job over the past week.

“We have over 1,000 Environment Agency personnel on the ground in local communities helping, over 200 pumps have been deployed.

“We’ve invested £5.2 billion in flood defences over the period in question, that’s a record sum, far more than we’ve done, in the future that’s contributed to protecting over 300,000 homes.

“And of course, there have been many people affected by what’s happened over the past week, but also over 49,000 have been affected by flooding.”

The EA has previously warned that more properties maybe flooded in the coming days amid increased river levels and more rain.

Labour has accused the Government of being “asleep at the wheel” over flood warnings with leader Sir Keir Starmer vowing to make flood defences “fit for purpose”, writing on social media that “people’s lives shouldn’t be upended by extreme rain”.

More than 1,800 properties have already flooded after prolonged wet weather and intense rainfall, the agency said, with the impact of high water levels likely to continue, particularly around the rivers Trent, Severn and Thames.

The agency said buildings “will flood and there will be travel disruption” during that time period, and local groundwater flooding is also possible in the South of England, Yorkshire and the Humber.

Forecasters have also said that slower journeys could be faced by people in parts of southeast England who should be braced ice across the region on Monday.

The Met Office yellow weather warning states: “A mix of sleet and snow showers will move in from the east later on Sunday night along with temperatures near zero.

“Given these wintry showers, and also wet surfaces after recent wet weather, some icy patches are likely on untreated surfaces.

“Additionally a few of the snow showers could turn quite heavy; these probably only affecting a narrow zone but a few places could see 1-3cm, mainly over the north Downs and on grassy surfaces.”

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