Covid: 'Too early to say’ whether North Yorkshire hospitals will see another spike, NHS boss says
An NHS boss has said it is too early to say whether North Yorkshire hospitals will see another sharp spike in Covid admissions as infections rise ahead of the key decision on ending all lockdown restrictions.
Amanda Bloor, accountable officer at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, told a briefing today that while patient numbers had increased slightly amid the spread of the Delta variant, there was no evidence yet that hospitals were heading for another spike like those seen during the two previous waves.
She said this was down to vaccines weakening the link between infections and serious illness, which is why it is "vitally important" for people to get both jabs.
"The numbers of patients in hospital are increasing very slowly and we are watching them very closely, but we do know as more people have their second jab the vaccination provides significant protection against serious illness," she told the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum briefing.
"We will see the data in the next few weeks about the impact of the Delta variant on the number of patients requiring hospital treatment, and any impact in terms of death, but it is too early to say.
"All of our hospitals have surge plans in place to cope with any increased demand and they will flex accordingly, but hopefully with the continued success of the vaccination programme we will see lower levels of hospitalisations as we move forwards."
Her comments come as the government will on Monday make a decision on ending all lockdown restrictions on 21 June, but the threat posed by the Delta strain - which was first detected in India and thought to be 40% more transmissible - is raising doubts over the wisdom of pressing ahead.
Ministers are looking at key tests to inform their decision, including vaccination success, whether rising infection rates could cause a surge in hospital admissions, and the threat of new variants.
Cases of the Delta variant almost doubled across the UK at the start of June, and it is now believed to be the dominant strain across the four nations.
In North Yorkshire, health officials had confirmed the variant had arrived in the county in "small numbers" last month, and although cases still remain low, they are now rising more rapidly.
Richard Webb, director of health and adult services at North Yorkshire County Council, told today's briefing: "We really do need to be vigilant - the new Delta variant is on the march and the vaccine is our best defence
"We have seen quite a significant change, although not on the scale we are seeing across England and the wider UK. Our average infection rate across the county at the moment is 28 cases per 100,000 people. The England average is now 50.
"Please be considerate and avoid large crowds, and if you are offered the vaccine please take it up."
There are currently 11 coronavirus patients in the hospitals serving North Yorkshire, with nine in South Tees, two in York and none in Harrogate or Scarborough.
The latest weekly infection rate per 100,000 people for each of the seven districts is as follows: Selby 56, Hambleton 33, Harrogate 31, Craven 25, Richmondshire 22, Scarborough 14 and Ryedale 5.
Meanwhile, more than 506,000 people in North Yorkshire and York have now received their first vaccine and around 379,000 their second.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter