People going home for Christmas have been warned about the dangers of covid for vulnerable family members as more than 10,000 people in England could be in hospital with the virus by the end of the year.
It comes as the latest figures from England’s NHS showed there was a 22 per cent increase in the number of people hospitalized with Covid in a week. There were 6,720 people hospitalized with the virus on December 14, up from 5,501 on December 7, according to data released by the health service.
NHS Covid doctor Dr Daniel Goyal said the rise in hospitalizations is “very worrying” and warned that the rising number of cases is exacerbating the “worst healthcare crisis any of us have ever experienced”.
“Part of the biggest concern is the number of patients contracting covid in hospital settings,” said Dr. Goyal. the independent. “What we are seeing is people picking up Covid at the hospital and then taking a long time to go home, which adds more pressure to the service. He raises the question of why we haven’t done anything significant to try to reduce transmission.”
Dr Goyal said that in the run up to Christmas there should be stronger public health messages about the benefits of wearing a mask in common areas and crowded spaces. He added that the public should consider wearing masks at holiday gatherings where vulnerable family members are present.
Meanwhile, flu admissions to hospitals in England have surpassed those for people with covid for the first time since the pandemic began. The figures show the flu admission rate stood at 6.8 per 100,000 people in the week to December 11, compared with 6.6 per 100,000 for Covid.
Both levels are currently rising, but the rate of flu admissions has risen sharply week over week, nearly doubling from 3.9 per 100,000, while covid admissions are rising more slowly.
The figures are the latest sign that the flu is becoming more and more prevalent among the population. Hospital admissions among people with flu are now at a higher rate than at any week in the previous four winters, according to data released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Admissions are highest among those 85 and older, at 23.1 per 100,000 people, a weekly increase from 10.7. There has been an equally large jump in the rate among children four and under, from 8.4 to 20.7.
Coronavirus cases in England are estimated to have surpassed 1 million for the first time since late October, while Scotland and Wales saw a surge.
Research actuary Adele Groyer has predicted that if Covid hospital admissions continue on their current trajectory, more than 9,000 people could be in hospital with the virus by Christmas and more than 11,000 by the end of the year.
Ms Groyer added that while a sustained increase at the same rate is unlikely, it is possible. In that scenario, hospital beds in England could run out by December 31, forcing the NHS to cancel non-urgent procedures to free up space.
Stuart McDonald, a partner at LCP Health Analytics and founder of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, has also forecast that Covid hospitalizations could top 10,000 before the end of the year, spelling disaster for an already “creaking” NHS.
“At the moment, there are very few hospital beds on the NHS. The system is grinding: the wait times for ambulances and ER admissions show that there is a huge backlog in the system,” McDonald said. the independent. “In the context of an NHS that is already struggling with bed availability, every additional bed occupied by a covid patient is a problem.”
McDonald’s also noted the proportion of patients who contract coronavirus at the hospital, which researchers say accounts for about a third of coronavirus cases.
Professor Azeem Majeed, head of public health at Imperial College London, said the UK currently faces a dual threat of covid and flu, and encouraged the public to get vaccinated against both viruses.
He added that while people are unlikely to scale back their holiday plans amid rising hospital admissions, people should consider getting tested before visiting elderly relatives for Christmas.
The total number of people in private households in the UK who have tested positive for coronavirus was estimated at 1.3 million in the week to December 5, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Dr Jamie López Bernal, UKHSA Consultant Immunization Epidemiologist, said: “We are seeing increases in flu, covid and other winter viruses as people mix more indoors. Covid hospitalizations are higher in older age groups, so it is particularly important that all eligible people continue to show up to accept their booster shot.
“While Covid-19 and the flu can be minor infections for many, we must not forget that they can cause serious illness or even death for the most vulnerable people in our communities.”