Health chief urges residents not to rush back to normal routines as hospital patient numbers remain high

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s public health lead has urged people not to rush back to normality after coronavirus restrictions eased last week.

By Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 2:22 pm
East Riding of Yorkshire Council's public health director Andy Kingdom.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council's public health director Andy Kingdom.

Public health director Andy Kingdom said there would likely be turbulence in the coming weeks as coronavirus hospital patient numbers remain at pandemic highs.

He added the recent declaration of a major incident for local health and social care services showed they remained under pressure, along with schools and other sectors.

It comes as the number of new coronavirus cases recorded in the week up to Wednesday, January 19 was 3,299, down from 4,038 the previous week.

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The rolling infection rate fell from 1,176.6 to 961.2 during the same period.

Mr Kingdom said that while the coronavirus situation was improving, the direction of travel depended on how people behave in the coming weeks.

The director said: “We don’t want people to rush ahead and stop doing the basics.

“At the moment it’s like we’re trying to land a plane and we can see the runway but people need to keep their trays up and seatbelts on because there’s going to be some turbulence.

“The Government’s looked at the figures and seen they’re falling, but if people’s behaviour gets ahead of the plans then there’s no guarantee they’ll continue to drop.

“We’ve seen big falls in case numbers, cases fell by around 1,300 from the week beginning Monday, January 4 and Monday, January 11.

“Those drops are very good, but the overall numbers are still very high, we’re still talking about hundreds of people being infected in the East Riding everyday.

“It’s all about balancing easing restrictions with the amount of cases the hospitals can deal with, and the amount of people off that places like schools can handle.

“At the moment the numbers are still too high, we need them to fall further.

“For instance we’ve seen cases among the elderly and most vulnerable rise from about 30 a day in December to around 300, that’s a massive increase and it’s concerning.

“There’s still big pressure on schools because coronavirus has already worked its way into families.

“Those families should by and large be protected – about 70 per cent of adults of a young parent age have had both jabs.

“We’ll probably still be looking at a high rate of infection in that age group until half term, and probably for some time afterwards, so children’s education will continue to be disrupted.

“We have all these different waves going on in different parts of the population at the moment and we have to remember there’s people who can’t have the vaccine because they’re immunosuppressed for instance.

“Healthy people might think that everything’s fine now, but people who can’t have the jab will still be worried about bumping into someone who has coronavirus and catching it from them or they might be nervous in crowded indoor spaces.

“So I’d ask people just to be kind to others and to remember that it’s okay if some still want to wear their masks and keep their distance.

“And we only have to look at what’s happening in Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital to see that health services are still dealing with challenges.

“There’s more patients in local hospitals now than there was at the start of the pandemic.

“The number of people in intensive care is stable, it’s been between two and four for some time.

“At the moment the hospitals seem to be coping reasonably well overall, but the situation’s volatile, that’s why health and social care services had to declare a major incident.

“Not only are hospitals under pressure, but it’s almost two years on since the start of the pandemic and staff are tired.

“The problem is it only takes another variant to come along and we could be set back.

“We’ve been in that position before with Delta and Omicron, so we know how to deal with it.

“But there’s no guarantee that the next variant won’t get round the vaccine or be milder, it could be more dangerous.

“That’s why ultimately we need to vaccinate as many people across the world as possible, otherwise the virus will continue to mutate elsewhere and then spread.

“I’m reasonably confident we’ll get to spring without too many problems here, that’s because of the way people in the East Riding have behaved so far.

“And our vaccine rates are among the highest in the country, for instance among our 12 to 15 year olds 63 per cent have had it, our target was for 60 per cent to have had it by now, our rate is one of the highest in the North.

“There are reasons to be optimistic and things are going in the right direction, but we’re not there yet.”