'Severe' cold weather alert warns -10C plunge may spark heart attacks and strokes as UK one step from national emergency

BRITAIN is facing 'severe' cold weather with temperatures plunging as low as -10C.

Public Health England has issued a cold weather alert, warning the bitter blast could spark heart attacks and strokes.

Temperatures are expected to be so low that Britain is just one step from national emergency.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of the country, saying it could have "a serious impact on health".

Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: "Cold weather isn't just uncomfortable, it can have a serious impact on health.

"For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

"So it's really crucial at this time, especially ahead of a potentially very cold snap, to remember to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses."

The alert covers the whole of England through to Wednesday.

The UK is already being battered with snow chaos, with another 12 inches set to fall along with 50mph winds.

In Suffolk, drifts taller than a snowplough have already fallen – while treacherous conditions have shut roads in Kent and Essex.

Three Covid vaccination centres were forced to close as Storm Darcy wreaked havoc on the roads yesterday.

Today will remain bitingly cold with some places struggling to get much above freezing, the Met Office said.

Forecasters have warned of "significant disruptive snowfall" and gale-force winds in the south-east of England, with up to 12 inches of snow possible in the Downs of Kent and the North Downs.

The Met Office advises maintaining indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly for those who have limited mobility, long-term illnesses or are 65 and over.

Cold weather warnings comprise of five levels based on temperature and other winter threats such as ice and snow.

England is currently facing level 3 severe weather, which requires social and healthcare services to target specific high-risk groups.

Level 4, a state of national emergency, is reached when the cold weather is so severe that its effects extend outside the health and social care system.

At this level, fit and healthy Brits could fall ill, as well as those in high-risk groups.

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