Covid infections and hospital patient numbers creep up in Harrogate district
Covid infections and hospital patient numbers are creeping up in Harrogate in rises which have been blamed on two faster-spreading Omicron sub-variants.
The district's weekly infection rate per 100,000 people has climbed from 52 to 172 in the last month, while Harrogate hospital has seen Covid patient numbers rise from four to 11 in the same period.
However, only one of the current patients is primarily receiving treatment for the virus.
The others have tested positive after being admitted for different illnesses.
Health officials say the rises are being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron. They have urged people who feel unwell or have tested positive to stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days following a positive result.
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Free testing is no longer available for the majority of the population but tests can be bought from local pharmacies, including those in supermarkets.
Sue Peckitt, chief nurse at the NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the recent rises were a "stark reminder" that Covid hasn't gone away.
"This virus is still causing some people to become very unwell," she said.
“If you haven’t had a Covid-19 vaccine, or you’re due a booster dose, I would strongly encourage you to visit the NHS website or call 119 to book an appointment at one of the local vaccination sites in North Yorkshire, to give you and those close to you the best level of protection against Covid-19.”
While Harrogate's Covid numbers have risen, the hospital has continued to ease some restrictions which were introduced earlier in the pandemic. Staff now have the personal choice as to whether they wear a mask, so visitors may see some with and others without a face covering.
Official figures show a total of 258 Covid patients have died at the hospital within 28 days of a positive test, with the latest death reported on 21 June.
Meanwhile, Harrogate's latest infection rate of 172 is slightly above the national average of 170, but well below the peak of the previous wave in March when it reached over 1,000.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter