Covid: Just two patients in Harrogate hospital as infection rate rises to highest in county
There are just two coronavirus patients in Harrogate hospital despite surging infection rates as growing confidence in vaccinations raises hopes that the end of lockdown will go ahead as planned on 19 July.
Harrogate s infection rate this week became the highest out of North Yorkshire's seven districts but with vaccines weakening the link between serious illness and deaths the message from government ministers and health officials is that it is now time to learn to live with Covid.
Speaking at a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum on Wednesday, Amanda Bloor, accountable officer for NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said although rising cases across the county have seen hospitalisations double in the last week, vaccines were having their "anticipated impact" to keep fewer people from falling seriously ill.
She said there are 47 patients in hospitals across the county - including two in Harrogate, 15 in York, and 30 in South Tees - and that these levels were significantly less than January when current infection rates were similar but more than 400 people were admitted for treatment.
Ms Bloor said: "The number of positive cases in North Yorkshire and York is rising, however, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has remained relatively low.
“This does give us confidence that the vaccination program is having the anticipated impact around reducing the risk of death and reducing serious illness, especially where those people have received both doses of the vaccine.”
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce on 12 July that the final stage of the lockdown roadmap will go ahead as planned, a further rise in cases will be inevitable as large events return and rules around the wearing of face masks and social distancing are scrapped.
But what the government is banking on is the wall of immunity built up by the vaccination programme stemming these rises soon and before winter when the NHS is under most pressure from seasonal illnesses.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street news conference on Monday: "If we don't go ahead now when we have clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the link... when would we go ahead?"
He added: "We run the risk of either opening up at a very difficult time when the virus has an edge, has an advantage, in the cold months, or again putting everything off to next year."
If all goes to the Prime Minister's plan, legal limits on gatherings will end on July 19, along with legal requirements on the wearing of masks and social distancing.
Work from home guidance would also be scrapped and nightclubs would reopen, while pubs, theatres and sporting venues would be able to operate at full capacity.
Meanwhile, the latest figures show Harrogate's weekly infection currently stands at 321 cases per 100,000 people. This is above both the North Yorkshire and England averages of 259 and 258.
A total of 118,325 people in the Harrogate district have now received their first vaccine dose and 97,135 people their second.
The last time Harrogate hospital recorded a coronavirus death was almost three months ago on 11 April.
By Jacob Webster, Local Demcoracy Reporter