Hospitals ‘creaking’ as late wave of Covid-19 cases spreads across the East Riding

The East Riding and Humber region are currently going through a “late wave” of coronavirus, leaving hospitals “creaking” ahead of winter, the council’s public health lead has said.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 8:11 am
East Riding Yorkshire Council’s public health director Andy Kingdom.
East Riding Yorkshire Council’s public health director Andy Kingdom.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said the number of coronavirus patients in Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital had grown from four in June to 65.

The director added that had left hospitals “creaking” as they also face “major pressures” from tired staff, growing waiting lists and backlogs and logistical issues around beds for coronavirus patients.

It comes as 1,304 new coronavirus infections were recorded in the East Riding from Tuesday, August 10 to Monday, August 16, down from 1,307 the previous week.

The East Riding’s seven day rolling rate was 380 per 100,000 people, slightly lower than the previous week’s figure of 381.

The East Riding’s rate was lower than Hull’s 624 but higher than Yorkshire’s and England’s which were 367 and 313 respectively.

Mr Kingdom said the current situation compared to going down a steep hill without breaks, ahead of a “sharp bend” looming in Autumn.

The director said: “As we’ve seen before not just in the East Riding but across the Humber area, we’re the last ones to be hit by a wave.

“Hull was one of the last areas to see cases rise and that affects the East Riding because of the close links between the two.

“We’re now expecting further increases based on the large number of cases in the Humber.

“The problem is that if the numbers rise, they’ll be doing so as we’re continuing to open up more and stopping self-isolations for some people.

“In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen people wearing masks and distancing less and meeting indoors more.

“We’re also coming up to the pupils returning to schools which have ended the bubble systems.

“All of that combined means that with about 200 new cases in the East Riding a day at the moment, the chances of you coming into contact with someone who has coronavirus is pretty high.

“The question is whether we can bring the rates down before schools start up again.

“Once they do pupils will be mixing without distancing or face coverings and while they’ll probably be okay there’s the risk that they then take it back home.

“The virus could then get passed on to an elderly or clinically vulnerable relative who could end up in hospital or die.

“We’re also going to have people coming back from holidays and returning to work in the coming weeks, so there’s even more opportunities for the virus to spread.

Mr Kingdom said the situation underscored the importance of getting the vaccine and booster jabs expected to be rolled out to the eldest and most vulnerable residents first from September.

He added although the East Riding’s vaccine uptake rate of 88% was “really, really good”, it was still essential for those without a second dose to get one.

The director said: “Hospitals are creaking at the moment and it only takes a little push for things to become serious.

“Older people and the clinically vulnerable could still get coronavirus even if they’ve had both vaccine doses, a proportion of those who catch it could be hospitalised.

“The effectiveness of the vaccine is starting to wane, particularly for the eldest and the most clinically vulnerable who got it first.

“That’s why it’s going to be really important that they get their booster jabs which the NHS is going to offer from September.

“And it’s why anyone eligible who hasn’t had their first or second dose of the vaccine needs to get it.

“Because without restrictions that and people’s behaviour is the ring of protection we need around the most vulnerable.”

Mr Kingdom said he would still encourage residents to wear masks in public places and distance despite them being no longer required, given the current situation.

He said: “The image that worries me is someone whose young and healthy who goes to a club say, catches coronavirus but is asymptomatic, then they go home, pass it on to their parents who then give it to a grandparent.

“My advice to residents is to assess their own personal risk and that of those around them, you wouldn’t go and see your grandparents if you had flu and the same goes with coronavirus.

“We know now that even after having both vaccine doses people can still carry coronavirus in their throat and nostrils.

“Have those conversations with elderly or vulnerable relatives about what they’re comfortable with and support them if they want to carry on wearing face masks or distancing.

“To keep infection rates down we need everyone to take care with their behaviour.

“Then hopefully we can get through what could well be a tough winter to next year when the vaccination and booster programmes have got to the people they need to reach.”

Article by Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)