LONDON — The pandemic is gathering strength in Britain fed by a mutant strain of Covid-19, and the country’s health care workers are paying a hefty price.
The virus has already killed more than 76,000 people in the U.K. — the worst death toll in Europe and the fifth worst in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalization numbers are reaching new highs.
A further 68,053 confirmed cases were announced by the government on Friday — the highest single day figure so far — making it the eleventh day in a row that more than 50,000 new cases had been reported.
“It’s gone completely crazy,” said Ben Schischa, a paramedic with eight years’ experience, who works in and around London and has been on the front lines of the pandemic since March.
Schischa, 39, said emergency calls from people confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19 have “exploded exponentially” compared to even a week or two ago.
Schischa said he has seen patients wait in ambulances for hours until the hospital had enough space for them. One patient he picked up had waited six hours outside a hospital the previous day, he said.
“That’s just an example of what’s going on at the moment. And that’s the same everywhere — London, Kent, Essex,” Schischa said, referring to counties in southeast England that are among the hardest hit. “It’s become like a war zone again.”