Covid patient numbers rising in Harrogate - but not all hospitalised due to virus
The number of patients with Covid at Harrogate District Hospital is rising, but not all are being admitted because of the virus.
Latest figures show the hospital currently has 23 Covid-positive patients - a figure which has almost tripled since mid-December when the Omicron variant was first detected in the district.
But a breakdown of the numbers shows only nine of these patients are receiving treatment for Covid.
The others were admitted for different reasons and just happen to have the virus.
Yet this is not to say the pressures being felt by the NHS are not severe.
The number of people needing treatment for Covid across the country is well above what would normally be expected for all types of respiratory infections combined.
And even those who are admitted not primarily for Covid add pressure because of the need for infection control measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week admitted the NHS will face “considerable” pressure throughout January due to Omicron, as he also ruled out bringing in any further restrictions for now.
He said the new variant is “plainly milder” than other strains, but added: “There’s no question Omicron continues to surge through the country".
This surge can be seen in Harrogate' s weekly infection rate which has rocketed in recent weeks and now stands at 1,357 cases per 100,000 people.
The England and North Yorkshire averages are 1,599 and 1,415.
Meanwhile, Harrogate District Hospital last reported a death of a patient who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid on 27 December, with the hospital's death toll since the pandemic began now standing at 203.
Whether the hospital will see more admissions and deaths will depend on a potential wave of older, more vulnerable patients being admitted if infections move from younger people into older age groups.
There is growing confidence this may not happen though, mainly thanks to immunity that has built up across the population either through vaccination or infection.
What experts believe does seem likely is that the Omicron wave will come and go pretty quickly.
And once it does, it is hoped the extra immunity acquired will mean the population will be even better protected for the future.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter