‘The death rate for people infected with coronavirus is “significantly ramped up” among people over the age of 80, officials said.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that overall around 1% of people who become infected “might end up dying”.
The government’s new battle plan for tackling the virus states that the elderly and people with pre-existing illnesses would be at highest risk.
Worst-case scenario planning has estimated that up to 80% of the population could become infected.
But Prof Whitty said the figure was likely to be much lower.
The COVID-19 action plan states that among those who become infected, some will exhibit no symptoms and other will have a “mild-to-moderate self-limiting illness”.
But a minority of people could develop complications – such as pneumonia – severe enough to require hospital care.
“In a small proportion of these, the illness may be severe enough to lead to death,” it states.
The document adds that “the risk of severe disease and death increases among elderly people and in people with underlying health risk conditions”.
Following the launch of the action plan, Prof Whitty said: “Overall, probably around 1% of people who get this virus might end up dying based on the Chinese experience.’