(Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Some NHS hospitals look like war zones with doctors struggling to cope with an influx of patients infected with Covid-19, the government’s top scientific adviser said, as the death toll rose by a record daily amount towards 100,000.

The UK’s official death toll is 93,290 – Europe’s worst figure and the world’s fifth worst after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. Deaths rose by a record on Wednesday – Jan 20, with 1,820 people dying within 28 days of positive coronavirus test. There were 38,905 new cases recorded, up from the 33,355 reported on Tuesday.

As hospital admissions soared, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said there was enormous pressure on the NHS with doctors and nurses battling to give people sufficient care.

“It may not look like it when you go for a walk in the park, but when you go into a hospital, this is very, very bad at the moment with enormous pressure and in some cases it looks like a war zone in terms of the things that people are having to deal with,” Vallance told Sky.

“There have been huge numbers of cases, the NHS is under enormous pressure at the moment,” said Vallance, formerly head of research at GlaxoSmithKline and a professor of medicine at University College London.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the death numbers were horrendous but that it was not the time to look back at the government’s possible mismanagement of the crisis.

“Every single death is deeply tragic,” Patel told LBC when asked why the death toll was so large. “There’s no one factor as to why we have such a horrendous and tragic death rate.”

“I don’t think this is the time to talk about mismanagement,” Patel said when asked by the BBC if the government had mismanaged the crisis.

Ministers say that while they have not got everything right, they were making decisions at speed in the worst public health crisis for a century and that they have learned from mistakes and followed scientific advice.

Loosening the UK lockdown too soon, though, would be a mistake, Vallance said.

“The lesson is every time you release it too quickly you get an upswing and you can see that right across the world,” he said.

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