SUSSEX declared a “major incident” today as Covid cases surged across the county, leaving health services to face “unprecedented pressures”. 

Fears are rising that Covid infections in the south east region could overwhelm local health services. 

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The Sussex Resilience Forum warned growing demand had put NHS workers under “unprecedented pressures”. 

The news comes as Covid deaths today topped 1,000 for the first time since April and cases rocketed by 62,322 in the highest daily rise ever. 

Covid patients have also seen a record rise with 30,074 Brits now being treated in hospital with the disease. 

In Sussex, numbers have steadily risen across local areas with some parts of the region seeing cases double in just one week.

Arun in Sussex saw cases jump from 563 to 1,196 in just seven days, according to government data.

And Crawley saw 1,158 cases in the week of January 2 compared to just 609 the week before.

Sussex was plunged into Tier 4 before all of England returned to lockdown on Monday. 

The Sussex Resilience Form released a statement today declaring a major incident at 2pm "in response to the high and increasing rate of infection across Sussex and to allow public services to make exceptional preparations for a potentially worsening situation”. 

New measures could see hospitals maximise the use of volunteer help, prepare for extra capacity needed across health services, and seek further government help, the forum reports. 

Assistant chief constable Dave Miller told the BBC: "The pressures on the whole system of health and social care… this winter are unprecedented and while our services are managing, we know that challenges are only likely to increase in the short term.

"By declaring a major incident, we can put ourselves on the strongest possible footing to combine our efforts and resources to keep people and public services in the best possible health."

And in a letter to NHS trusts in the area, South East Coast Ambulance Service spoke of the "current operational pressures" it was facing.

The letter said: "We need to reduce the amount of planned activity that may require emergency ambulance transfer.”

Buckinghamshire and Essex also declared “major incidents” recently as a jump in cases led to fears local hospitals would buckle under the pressure. 

Essex was forced to call in the army last week to help hospitals as the county saw the highest amount of cases.  

Buckinghamshire Council leader Martin Tett said Covid case rates could climb to 800 per 100,000 people in just a week – blaming the mutant strain currently sweeping across the UK.

He said the bug was "putting our health and social care services under very severe pressure".

Non-urgent surgeries and appointments were delayed in the county as a result of the rising pressures on the NHS. 

Meanwhile, Essex called in the Army last Wednesday after declaring a major incident at their crippled hospitals with patients being treated in the back of ambulances.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, made the plea as it was revealed frontline workers are facing unprecedented pressure.

As cases continued to soar in the UK, Boris Johnson warned the national lockdown could last until the end of March in a bid to suppress transmissions.

The Prime Minister told MPs that only after the vaccine rollout is underway and the most vulnerable have been protected, will he consider lifting measures – with only the promise that "things will be much better by the spring" – and possibly as late as the end of March.

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