A London intensive care doctor said covid rule breakers had “blood on their hands” because their selfishness was costing lives.
Professor Hugh Montgomery warned hospitals were facing a ‘tsunami’ of Covid cases and he feared it would get worse after New Years Eve.
He urged people to accept that it would be a “miserable” occasion this year and not to gather in groups.
This echoes official advice to stay home and not to throw parties.
About 44 million people in England are now living under the strictest level of Covid restrictions after level four was expanded at midnight.
England’s Covid infection rate also reached its highest rate since May. The number of people testing positive for the virus reached a total of 232,169 in the week of December 23 – the highest weekly total since Test and Trace launched in the spring.
Professor Montgomery, who works in intensive care at Whittington Hospital in London and heads a research group at UCL, told Radio 5 Live: “We now have a lot of problems in intensive care in the UK.
“Just huge numbers coming in, my heart goes to our emergency services too, seeing a tsunami in the last week or two of the cases. Everyone works to the maximum. ”
He said it was wrong to blame the spike in cases and deaths on the new variant of the coronavirus, which was only “slightly” more transmissible and causing the same symptoms.
“It actually makes me very angry now that people are blaming the virus, and it’s not the virus, it’s the people, people don’t wash their hands, they don’t wear their masks” , he said.
He warned anyone who did not distance themselves socially or follow the rules that they “had blood on their hands”.
“They are spreading this virus. Other people will spread it and people will die. They won’t know they killed people but they did. ”
He added: “I watch entire families being wiped out here, and it has to stop.”
Professor Montgomery, who was in post at the time of the interview, said it was “a big myth” that hospitals are overwhelmed with elderly people.
“The people we get are, like the first wave, my age really. I am 58 years old and I would say that half of the patients are younger than me. These are middle aged people or a little older than we are becoming. ”
He also recounted how he came home to take a shower after one of his shifts and was called back because a pregnant patient had deteriorated.
And he appealed to people who thought they would see New Years later with a party: “I’m so sorry New Years is going to be miserable, but it has to be. Please don’t get together en masse. make it a last swan song. ”
Professor Montgomery’s warnings echo the advice of Professor Stephen Powis of NHS England, who said at a press conference in Downing Street on Wednesday: “Covid likes crowds.”