Inside a London COVID ward as UK enters lockdown

Overworked, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived.

The reality of staff working at London’s St. George's Hospital, as they cope with mounting COVID-19 cases after the festive period.

Chloe is a senior nurse.

"It's the first Monday after Christmas and New Years and it's been one of the worst shifts of my entire life. Intense. I'm looking after many more sick patients than I normally look after. It's just overwhelming, the whole situation."

In England alone, some 27,000 people are in hospital with COVID.

That’s 40% more than during the first peak in April.

Nurse Hannah says it's taking a physical and mental toll on her.

"I personally cry when I get home actually, quite a lot at the moment. Sleep - we're suffering with sleep problems, I think a lot of nurses and doctors at the moment as well. You just have to relax on your days off as best you can, ready, prepping yourself to come back again, is what I would say."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown for England late on Monday (December 4).

He said the highly contagious new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast that the National Health Service risked being overwhelmed within 21 days.

Dominic Spray is the director of critical care at St George's.

"We are having to think about whether we do cancer surgery, we are having to postpone cancer surgeries because of the number of covid patients we have in. So even if you don't think you are doing any harm by bending the rules, you are. It has a knock-on effect and we are seeing the knock-on effect here."

Alongside the new lockdown, the UK is pinning its hopes on vaccination efforts.

The country has begun rolling out two vaccines against COVID and more than a million people have already received their first dose.