Harrogate hospital passes 170 coronavirus deaths
The coronavirus death toll at Harrogate hospital has passed 170 after staff this week reported a significant drop in patient numbers.
Figures released by NHS England show a total of 171 people have now died at the hospital after testing positive for coronavirus - with six fatalities coming in the last seven days.
It comes as the hospital has seen Covid patient numbers fall by two thirds in a just over month in an encouraging sign that pressure on the NHS is beginning to ease.
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust said on Wednesday that 18 people were in the hospital with the disease - down from 67 at the start of last month when patient numbers peaked.
This follows a significant fall in the district's weekly infection rate over the last two months, with the rate shrinking from 498 cases per 100,000 people at the start of January to 46.6 on Monday.
Speaking at a briefing this week, Amanda Bloor, accountable officer at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said while the declining numbers were “really positive" news, people should not drop their guard against the disease.
"This wave in the pandemic has been long and very hard on staff - and there has been a significant commitment as well from the public getting through it," she said on Wednesday.
"But it is just worth reminding people that we are still in a national lockdown. We are also still in winter, so our hospitals remain busy.
"Please continue to adhere to the government guidance as we take our steps towards the roadmap being unlocked more over the coming weeks."
Under the government's roadmap out of lockdown, schools have started a gradual return this week and care home residents are now allowed one named visitor.
The next stage of lifting restrictions will see outdoor gatherings of six people or two households allowed from 29 March, when outdoor sports including football, golf and tennis will also make a return.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter