Analysis shows thousands of patients are still being infected with Covid in hospital wards as scientists have warned the UK could face a new wave of coronavirus.
Just days after the NHS dropped the requirement to wear masks in hospitals and GP surgeries, data shows 19 per cent of positive patients on wards are likely to have contracted the virus in hospital.
doctors told LatestPageNews They had been scrambling to contain outbreaks on wards, with a warning that “hospitals accumulate infections”.
Figures compiled by the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group show the proportion of people likely to have caught Covid in hospital rose 29 per cent this week, although the data may underestimate the numbers as routine tests were dropped. Hospitals stopped routinely testing patients upon admission in May.
In the 28 days leading up to June 5, more than 2,267 out of 13,416 patients who tested positive in hospitals are likely to have contracted the virus there, according to analysis carried out by pioneering Covid researcher Dr. Tom Lawton was performed.
A doctor who spoke about outbreaks in his confidence told LatestPageNews: “Hospitals can’t help but spread infections because of the inability of staff to limit airborne transmission, and it only takes one on the ward without mechanical ventilation to lead to dozens more cases.”
“I am aware of a recent outbreak that killed 14 employees. We weren’t allowed to test the whole ward, so no idea how many patients got infected.”
The total number of cases in the UK has risen for the first time in two months, with 953,900 testing positive in the last week compared to 953,000 the week before.
Covid hospitalizations rose 38 percent on Friday compared to the previous week, while community infections began to rise after two months of declines in some parts of the country.
The spike in Covid admissions comes as the NHS remains under extreme pressure and emergency departments are warning patients are facing wait times of up to 13 hours.
Experts have questioned the decision to end mask use in hospitals. dr Helen Salisbury, of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent Sage), said it was “disappointing” and that there was no good reason for it.
She said: “There’s clearly been a lot of hospital-acquired Covid and a lot that hasn’t been tested for it… there seems to be a pretty centralized policy that we generally don’t need masks anymore, which really is, really disappointing. I’m quite concerned that our local trust doesn’t actually say this is nonsense… I guess they have pressure from above. I don’t know exactly, but there is no good reason to stop wearing masks.”
A doctor tells LatestPageNews: “Unfortunately, reducing asymptomatic testing seems to be pretty widespread, and it’s only when people then push for off-protocol testing that you see results.”
dr Kieran Sharrock, vice-chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “It is clear that Covid-19 has not gone away and so it is good to see that the latest guidance at least outlines how important it is for people with respiratory problems to continue wearing masks in healthcare.”
During the Independent Sage briefing, Professor Christina Pagel said: “We will have a new wave of infections this month. Now hopefully it won’t be as high as the previous two waves and might be lower. But we cannot count on that and either way we will see more people getting infected.”
Professor Pagel said there are currently four variants of Omicron, which “all increased rapidly,” while the previous wave in March was powered by two variants.
However, Professor John Edmunds of the Government’s Sage group said: “It is very difficult to say where and how it could go differently… [infections] could just jump along.”
In a survey by Clinically Vulnerable Families UK, which represents thousands of patients across the country, more than 700 said they were concerned about mask removal in clinical settings, while 200 said they were considering treatment in NHS settings would.
A spokesman for the group said: “Healthcare facilities are overwhelmingly populated by the elderly and clinically vulnerable and they remain most at risk of Covid infections. Disposable masks are known to be far less protective and so until other measures such as HEPA filters to clean the air are widely used, those at risk will have to rely on other people wearing masks.”
On Thursday said Dr. Jamie Lopez Bernal, a consultant epidemiologist working for the UK Health Security Agency’s Immunization and Response Unit: Case numbers of Covid-19 continue to fall, but getting vaccinated remains important to reduce the risk of serious illness. If you have not yet accepted the offer of a vaccine or missed your last vaccination, please get in touch now.
“Recent data has shown a slight increase in positivity rates and hospitalizations with Covid-19. These small increases should be interpreted with caution as there may be delays in data due to the anniversary holiday.”