June 16, 2021, 12:15

    Hospital cases in Covid hotspots double in a month as ‘Freedom Day’ looms

    Hospital cases in Covid hotspots double in a month as ‘Freedom Day’ looms

    NHS hospitals in Covid hotspots have seen rises in patients over the past month – but encouraging data shows how vaccines are breaking the link between infections and serious illness.

    Analysis by The Mirror reveals that two hospital trusts serving the five worst-hit towns and cities in England have seen the number of coronavirus patients more than double in a month.

    Across England, the number of people being treated for the virus rose by more than 13 per cent in a week – piling pressure on Boris Johnson to hold back from lifting restrictions on June 21.

    NHS bosses say hospitals in the country's worst-affected areas are coping, with the number of cases now a tiny fraction of figures during the winter peak in December and January.

    The latest figures show East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – which provide healthcare for hotspots Blackburn, Bolton, Rossendale, Burnley and Hyndburn – were treating a combined 69 patients on June 1.

    This was up from 22 a month earlier – a 214 per cent rise.

    Earlier today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it now estimates that eight out of 10 adults in England have Covid antibodies as a result of being vaccinated or recovering from the virus.

    This is expected to rise further still, with around five million first and second doses expected to be administered by June 21, adding to the 40.5 million people who have already had at least one jab.

    It is estimated that eight out of 10 adults had Covid antibodies midway through last month in England
    (Image: Getty Images)

    Are hospitalisations with Covid going up across England?

    Latest data shows that they are.

    Across England, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is now around a fifth higher than at the end of the second wave.

    According to NHS England, 879 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital in England at 8am yesterday.

    This is up from 776 a week earlier – a rise of 13 per cent. It is also up 20 per cent from a low of 730 patients on May 22.

    However the head of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said this morning that hospitals were coping with the current level of cases.

    Yesterday new guidelines were issued in Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire amid swelling cases of the Delta variant – first detected in India.

    In these areas, people have been urged to meet outdoors and to avoid leaving their area where possible.

    It comes after data showed a worrying rise in infection rates in parts of the North West.

    East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which serves hotspots Blackburn with Darwen, Rossendale and Burnley – was treating 27 Covid patients on June 1, the latest figures.

    This is up from just nine a month earlier, on May 1 – but remains a fraction of the numbers being treated during the first and second peaks of the virus.

    On January 11 the trust had 311 patients in hospital with the virus, the highest number of the pandemic.

    Meanwhile Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – which covers England's second-worst Covid hotspot – was treating 42 patients, up from 13 a month earlier.

    Which parts of England are recording the most Covid cases?

    Latest Public Health England data revealed hotspots in the North West, with eight of England's worst hotspots recording a week-on-week rise in cases.

    Blackburn with Darwen has the highest infection rate, while Bolton is in second despite a significant drop in the number of people testing positive.

    England's 10 worst Covid hotspots

    • Blackburn with Darwen – 556.5 cases per 100,000, up from 436.9 in a week
    • Bolton – 320.3 cases per 100,000, down from 381.2 in a week
    • Rossendale – 310.6 cases per 100,000, down from 316.2
    • Burnley – 282.3 cases per 100,000, up from 120.3 in a week
    • Hyndburn – 273.9 cases per 100,000, up from 175.2 in a week
    • South Ribble – 252.7 cases per 100,000, up from 111.0 in a week
    • Ribble Valley – 244.7 cases per 100,000, up from 147.8 in a week
    • Salford – 231.8 cases per 100,000, up from 116.3 in a week
    • Manchester – 224.1 cases per 100,000, up from 111.4 in a week
    • Preston – 199.8 cases per 100,000, up from 120.2 in a week

    Click here to see the full list of infection rates in all 315 of England's local authority areas

    What's happening with hospital admissions in these hotspots?

    Even with more people testing positive for the virus, the number of people being admitted is nowhere near the levels it was over Christmas and in early 2021.

    And some trusts in Greater Manchester and Lancashire – such as Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – have even recorded a month-on-month drop in cases.

    Of the 10 NHS hospital trusts with the highest number of Covid patients on June 1, just four saw a month-on-month rise in cases.

    These include trusts serving Bolton, East Lancashire, Croydon and Birmingham.

    Just four of England's 10 hospitals with the most Covid cases saw a month-on-month rise
    (Image: Joel Goodman)

    Although the percentage increases remain high, the numbers remain very low compared to the dire situation a few months back.

    The 10 NHS Trusts with the highest number of Covid patients:

    • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – 42 patients, up from 13 a month earlier
    • King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (London) – 30, down from 32 a month earlier
    • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (London) – 29, up from 12 a month earlier
    • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London) – 28, down from 51 a month earlier
    • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – 28, down from 32 a month earlier
    • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 27, up from 9 a month earlier
    • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – 24, down from 32 a month earlier
    • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust – 23, down from 31 a month earlier
    • St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 22, down from 30 a month earlier
    • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – 21, up from 20 a month earlier

    Of the five NHS trusts serving Lancashire, three saw a rise in new cases, although the numbers involved were very small.

    One – University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – saw a small fall, while another, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust , remained the same.

    Trusts in Lancashire

    • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 27, up from 9 a month earlier
    • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – 7, down from 9 a month earlier
    • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 4, up from 2 a month earlier
    • Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust – 1, same as a month earlier
    • Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust – 1, up from 0

    The picture was similar in Manchester, where five trusts saw a fall in the number of Covid patients in hospital between May 1 and June 1.

    There was a worrying picture in Bolton, where the number trebled. But it is worth noting that the 42 patients in hospital on June 1 compares to a high of 162 on November 11, long before the Delta variant first emerged.

    Trusts in Greater Manchester

    • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – 42 patients, up from 13 a month earlier
    • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – 24, down from 32 a month earlier
    • Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – 17, up from 11 a month earlier
    • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust- 5, up from 4 a month earlier
    • Stockport NHS Foundation Trust – 2, down from 9 a month earlier
    • Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust – 2, down from 6 a month earlier
    • Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust – 1, down from 11 a month earlier
    • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust – 0, down from 1 a month earlier

    The Prime Minister will announce next week whether he will plough ahead with a June 21 reopening
    (Image: PA)

    Are hospitals coping?

    According to NHS chiefs, yes.

    Chris Hopson, chief executive of the body which represents NHS trusts, said there was a degree of confidence that vaccines have "broken" the link between infections and the "very high level of hospitalisations and mortality we've seen in previous waves".

    He told Times Radio: "And if, and it is a big if, if Bolton has gone through its complete cycle and if other areas follow Bolton, the view from the hospital there was that they were able to cope with the level of infections.

    "It's important not to just focus on the raw numbers here… you also do need to look at who's being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity they've got.

    "What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they're seeing what they believe is a significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures.

    "So it's not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it's actually the level of harm and clinical risk."

    How many people have some level of protection against the virus?

    Eight out of 10 adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have antibodies against Covid-19, encouraging new data shows.

    The presence of Covid-19 antibodies suggests someone has had the virus in the past or has received their jab – meaning they have some level of protection against the virus.

    In Scotland, the figure is seven out of 10, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced this morning.

    The ONS said there is a "clear pattern" between vaccination and developing lifesaving antibodies.

    In England, researchers found 80.3 per cent of people in private households were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in the week beginning May 17.

    This is up from an estimated seven in 10, or 69.9 per cent, a month earlier.

    A Covid vaccination centre in Blackburn, which now has England's worst infection rate
    (Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

    Which areas have new guidelines and support been given to?

    The new measures were introduced in areas covered by Lancashire County Council as well as Greater Manchester.

    The Lancashire places affected are – Rossendale, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Preston, South Ribble, Chorley, Pendle, Fylde, Lancaster, West Lancashire and Wyre.

    Measures are already in place in Burnley.

    Areas of Greater Manchester identified are: Manchester, Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Wigan, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford and Tameside.

    They join Bolton, which had already been identified.

    Further measures are already in place in Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Leicester City, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

    What are people in these areas being told to do?

    People in the whole of Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire are now being advised to take "particular caution" when meeting people outside of their household or bubble.

    They are now encouraged to meet outside rather than inside where possible.

    The government has also told people to "minimise travel in and out" of the areas.

    Parts of Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been identified for extra support
    (Image: Getty Images)

    What increased steps are being taken to halt the spread of the variant?

    The Department of Health today said the military will be sent in to assist with testing and logistics.

    Directors of Public Health were again authorised to insist that schoolchildren wear masks in communal areas, and supervised in-school testing will be carried out.

    Surge testing will also be carried out, while authorities will be taking steps to raise the number of people being vaccinated.

    The government announced:

    • Surge Rapid Response Teams, a specialist team, can be deployed to support local authorities with logistics, planning and workforce to support measures such as testing, door-to-door visits to engage with residents and other activities
    • Military support to help local areas with testing, door-to-door community engagement, planning and logistics with decisions made based on local needs, including support from the nationally funded Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA)
    • Supervised in-school testing
    • Wastewater testing samples prioritised for sequencing
    • Specialist communications support to increase awareness and focus engagement with disadvantaged groups
    • Maximising vaccine uptake by expanding existing assets, developing new capacity and increasing local and targeted communications
    • Supervised in-school testing and discretion to reintroduce face coverings in communal areas in schools if Directors of Public Health decide it is appropriate
    • Surge testing and enhanced contact tracing
    • Enhanced monitoring (genomic sequencing, genotype assay testing)

    Sourse: mirror.co.uk

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