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National emergency as Met Office issues first-ever red warning for extreme heat

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National emergency as Met Office issues first-ever red warning for extreme heat.
The Met Office has issued its first-ever red warning for extreme heat.

The Met Office has issued its first-ever red warning for extreme heat weather covering much of England as temperatures in London are expected to soar towards 40C early next week.

The Met Office warned of an “exceptional hot spell on Monday and Tuesday leading to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure”.

Met Office forecasters say there is an 80% chance of temperatures surpassing the UK record of 38.7C (101.7F) set at Cambridge University Botanic Garden on 25 July 2019.

The Met Office also said that there is a 50% chance of temperatures hitting 40C (104F) somewhere in the country.

Grahame Madge, Met Office spokesman, said: “We’ve just issued a red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday, which is the first such warning ever issued.

The existing Met Office’s amber warning has been extended to the rest of England, Wales, and parts of Scotland from Monday.

“The warning covers an area from London up to Manchester and then up to the Vale of York. This is potentially a very serious situation.”

A national emergency has been declared, with a red warning for extreme heat issued for the first time for England on Monday and Tuesday – when temperatures could hit an unprecedented 40C.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) raised its heat health warning to level four, “national emergency”, which would lead to help being coordinated centrally.

Level four is reached when “a heatwave is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system”. This means fit and healthy people could be susceptible to illness and death – not just high-risk groups, UKHSA said.

Dr Yvonne Young, London regional lead for health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the hot weather safely, but the extreme temperatures that are forecast for the city in the coming days can have significant health consequences for some.

“When the heat rises, it can lead to an increase in illness and deaths, with people being at risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. I would urge Londoners to check on vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, including older people, children and people with heart and lung conditions.”

On the same lines, NHS England has issued a level three heatwave alert. Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse warned the government is preparing for a surge in demand on the NHS and other services – as he urged the public to look out for people vulnerable in the heat.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, shared the signs of heat exhaustion on Twitter as he said: “early intervention to cool people down and rehydrate them can be lifesaving”.

The extreme heat is likely to start on Sunday morning and continue until the end of Tuesday. The public has also been warned to expect road closures, traffic delays, and last-minute cancellations to train services and air travel.

Network Rail has advised that slower speeds may need to be implemented and reminded people to carry water on journeys. And the Department for Transport is in discussions with port operators, highway agencies and the police to make plans for places where queues are likely to build up.

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