ICU beds crisis: Manchester just weeks from meltdown

UK Prime Minister set to offer £100m for region to accept tighter lockdown measures

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Greater Manchester will run out of intensive care beds by November 12, the UK government has warned, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson ready to offer the region £100 million ($129.4m) to offset the economic effects of a stricter lockdown.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said the estimate was based on modelling by experts advising the government.

He said coronavirus cases in the over-60 age group had tripled in the past 15 days.

Projections suggest Covid-19 patients would take up the entire intensive care capacity by November 8, and the entire surge capacity by November 12, meaning hospitals would be overwhelmed.

What is a 'circuit breaker' lockdown and has it worked elsewhere?

What is a 'circuit breaker' lockdown and has it worked elsewhere?

Manchester’s current rate is 432.5 cases for each 100,000 people.

Greater Manchester had only 46 critical care beds left last Friday – 18 per cent of its total supply – and some of its 12 hospitals were already full, National Health Service figures obtained by The Guardian  showed.

The NHS said it was monitoring hospital admission rates, critical care beds and intensive care units.

"It's not unusual for 80-85 per cent of ICU beds to be in use at this time of year," it said.

"And our hospitals work together if there are particular pressures in any one area, to ensure the best care for patients who need the high level of support ICU provides, for Covid and for other reasons."

Mr Johnson hopes to reach an agreement with leaders in the region to convince it to go into a Tier 3 lockdown, meaning the area has a “very high level" of coronavirus infections.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has so far resisted pressure to enact tougher measures in the region and received support from backbench MPs in Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party.

Mr Burnham wants the government to give more support to workers who would lose their jobs if their place of work closes if a Tier 3 lockdown were enforced.

On Monday morning, a senior minister said the government offered leaders in Greater Manchester more money to impose a stricter lockdown.

“There is now a need to be honest for the local leaders, including the mayor, to show flexibility, to come to us and to reach an agreement today or tomorrow so we can bring this to a conclusion,” Robert Jenrick, Secretary for Local Government, told Sky News.

“We’ve offered further resources and you can see very clearly from the resources that we’ve given to Merseyside and Lancashire, with whom we’ve worked well, in recent weeks, the sort of package that we’re willing to offer to Greater Manchester."

The highest level of restrictions would force pubs to close and ban people from mixing indoors with others from different households.

Meanwhile, Wales announced it would impose a two-week "firebreak" lockdown from Friday, in which everybody apart from essential workers must stay at home to combat an accelerating second wave of Covid-19.

There were 4,127 new confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded by Public Health Wales between October 9 and 15, although the real level of infections is believed to be much higher.

The “sharp and deep” lockdown will begin at 6pm on October 23 and last until November 9, First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

“The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible,” Mr Drakeford said.

The UK recorded 18,804 new daily cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, Worldometer said on Monday.