Coronavirus latest news: ‘Moonshot’ tests that missed half of infections cost £75m to fly in –

England’s chief medical officer has warned that the NHS is facing the “most dangerous situation” in living memory as the pandemic causes record deaths and hospital admissions.

As the country awaits the ramping-up of coronavirus testing and vaccinations this week, Chris Whitty said the only way to prevent avoidable deaths is for the public to stay at home wherever possible.

“Hospitals are always busy in winter, but the NHS in some parts of the country is currently facing the most dangerous situation anyone can remember,” Prof Whitty wrote in the Sunday Times.

“If the virus continues on this trajectory, hospitals will be in real difficulties, and soon.

“Staff-to-patient ratios – already stretched – will become unacceptable even in intensive care.”

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital is at a record high in England, while the official coronavirus death toll for the UK passed 80,000 on Saturday and lab-confirmed cases hit more than three million.

Prof Whitty commended the public for their efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 and noted the hope offered by various vaccines, but he echoed other experts in saying it would be some weeks before the jabs start to reduce the number of people taken to hospital.

Analysis: ​Haemorrhaging of the nation’s health service has now started