Speaking on Thursday’s BBC Question Time, Ms McCay, highlighted how the UK is “still in the midst of a COVID emergency”. This week, the UK’s coronavirus death toll surpassed the grim total of 100,000.
On Thursday, Britain recorded 28,680 new COVID-19 cases and 1,239 deaths related to the coronavirus in the latest 24-hour period.
Ms McCay said: “Right now there are like 38 thousand people in hospital with COVID across the country.
“And we’re talking about ‘Oh let’s move out of lockdown’ but actually that number of people in hospital right now is double what we had at the peak of the first wave.”
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson announced that schools will not reopen before March 8.
The Prime Minister promised to publish a “roadmap” to easing lockdown on February 22.
Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said the plan would allow Britain to “begin steadily to reclaim our lives”.
Ms McCay compared the current national restrictions to the UK’s first lockdown when the NHS was overwhelmed.
She said: “When we were at the peak of the first wave we were already feeling like this was a shocking number of people who were needing help.
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Speaking to Channel 4 news, Professor Van-Tam urged people to “keep the faith”.
He said: “Much as you would like to see your grandchildren and look after them again, and as much as I desperately would like to see my mum, I can’t.
“All of the rules, I’m afraid, just have to apply to us all for a little bit longer.
“These are the hard yards, they really are, but we are so tantalisingly close now, maybe just a few months away from the vaccine rollout changing all of our lives for the better.”
The Prime Minister said he shared the frustrations of parents up and down the country.
He praised them for their “heroic” efforts at homeschooling.
Mr Johnson added: “I know that everybody across the country wants us to get schools open as fast as possible.”
But he warned that infection rates remained “forbiddingly high” in the UK.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “If schools do open in March, and the priority is certainly to open schools first, then it will mean other things have to remain closed for some time.
“We have to avoid the situation last time where the return of schools meant far greater household mixing across the board.
“So that means we’d be likely to wait at least another month for non-essential retail, and a month beyond that at least for pubs and restaurants.”