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UK hospital admissions climb sharply as Johnson unveils vaccine rollout plan

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Boris Johnson, the British prime minister
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister   -   Copyright  Hannah McKay/AP
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The UK intends to deploy hundreds of thousands of vaccines by next week and will inoculate 15 million people by February 15, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

He told a televised press conference that the government planned to vaccinate people at nearly 1,500 locations around the country.

Vaccine supplies were “enough” for the country’s most vulnerable people, he added.

His remarks on Wednesday came as official figures showed the number of daily COVID-19 deaths in the UK was nearing a peak reached during the first wave in April.

There were 1,162 deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours and 52,618 new cases of the virus reported in the same period.

The fatality figure represents a record for the UK this winter and the highest number of coronavirus fatalities since April 21 last year.

Johnson said that his government hoped to provide jabs for the 15 million most clinically vulnerable people across the country by February 15.

He added that by next Friday, January 15, vaccines would be available at over a thousand sites managed by family doctors, as well as 223 hospitals, seven vaccination centres and 200 community pharmacies.

“If all goes well, these together should have the capacity to deliver hundreds of thousands of vaccinations per day by January the 15th, and it is our plan that everyone should have a vaccination available within a radius of ten miles,” he said.

“It follows from that the limits will not be on our distributional power but on the supply of vaccines, and I have no doubt that we have enough supply to vaccinate these four groups by the February 15 deadline.”

Wednesday's government figures also revealed hospital admissions had risen sharply: over 100,000 people had admitted with coronavirus symptoms since Christmas Day, officials said.

It also emerged 800 new COVID-19 patients are being admitted to hospitals in the London area every day.

Some “Nightingale” hospitals — facilities that can accept an overflow of coronavirus patients when ordinary hospitals are overwhelmed — are set to reopen next week, in part to assist with the vaccine rollout.