North East health bumps ‘expect’ Covid to spread this winter as report shows highest rate since August

Health bumps “expect” has Covid-19 resurgence this winter – as the latest national figures show highest rates of infection nationally since August.

With the autumn booster Covid-19 vaccination campaign ongoing and fears of a “twindemic” should there be a bad flu season, health experts in our region have shared concerns that going into a winter with no restrictions on socializing could see the virus spread. The last few weeks have also seen a jump in Covid-19 cases in our hospitals.

Gateshead’s director of public health Alice Wiseman said: “We expect to see an increase in Covid-19 infection rates as the weather turns colder and people spend more time together indoors, where it’s easier for viruses to spread – and unlike the last two winters, there are no restrictions on social contact .

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“This makes it even more important for everyone to protect themselves and others this winter, in order to prevent both Covid-19 and seasonal flu from placing too much strain on our NHS and other public services.” Ms Wiseman urged everyone eligible for flu and Covid-19 jabs to make appointments, and for people feeling unwell to stay at home if possible, wash hands regularly, consider wearing a face covering and keep a safe distance from others .

In Newcastle, Coun Karen Kilgour, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council and the cabinet member with responsibility for health, said: “When vaccines were first approved, we moved quickly to get our care home residents and most vulnerable residents vaccinated as quickly as possible, and we’re doing exactly the same this time around with the autumn booster.Vaccines have saved countless lives, kept many more out of hospital and allowed us to live our lives without harsh restrictions.

“However, it’s important to remember that the virus continues to pose a threat and I would urge anybody who has been offered a Covid-19 booster to book in as soon as possible. I’m incredibly proud of how quickly the council and our partner organizations in Newcastle have got to work to make sure those most at risk will have the protection of this booster before we reach the winter months.”

Councilor Karen Kilgour
Councilor Karen Kilgour

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that total Covid-19 infections in the UK jumped 25% in the week to September 26. Around 1.3 million people are likely to have had the virus in that week. The ONS also found there had been a “marked increase” among the over-70s.

This is the highest figure since August, but still some way short of the 3.8 million weekly infections in early July, at the peak of the wave caused by the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants of the virus.

Meanwhile, as of October 5, there were 48 Covid-19 positive patients at Newcastle’s hospitals, 109 at South Tyneside and Sunderland, 53 in the QE in Gateshead, 68 at Northumbria’s hospitals and 89 at County Durham and Darlington. However, some of those patients are in hospital for other reasons – and just happen to have Covid-19.

Last week, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust medical director Andy Welch said that of 51 Covid-19 patients at the time, 37 were on the wards for their Covid itself, with 14 further “incidental” cases. Earlier this autumn, university health experts voiced fears that the combination of a worse-than-usual flu season and Covid could put the NHS into difficulty.



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