Blackpool Victoria Hospital boss gives update on Covid admissions, deaths, booster jabs and vaccines for children
The number of people in hospital on the Fylde coast with Covid-19 continues to “rise steadily” – with fears voiced about a spike in cases as youngsters head back to school.
Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said there were 46 Covid-positive patients being treated as of yesterday afternoon, up from 35 the week before.
Speaking during his weekly coronavirus briefing, he said: "Of those, four are in critical care and 42 are on our general wards."
Another 14 patients remain in hospital but are no longer considered Covid-positive, he said, while six people have died within 28 days of their diagnosis in the past week.
It takes the Vic’s death toll to 785, Dr Gardner said yesterday (Wednesday, September 1), but the Government’s official figure stands at 793.
The resort’s community infection rate – expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people – also continues to rise. In the seven days to August 28, the rate in Blackpool stood at 481.3, up from 430.7 the week before.
The rate in Fylde fell from 333.7 to 315.2, official figures showed, while in Wyre it fell from 340.5 to 334.3.
Dr Gardner also said the “precise detail” about children being offered a vaccine “is being worked through”, as political pressure appeared to be ramping up on experts advising on jabs, with the Education Secretary saying today he hoped a decision on jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds will be made “very, very soon”.
Gavin Williams said the NHS is ready to go into schools to deliver jabs to that age group “if we get the get-go” from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Dr Gardner said: “I’m sure if you’re, for example, about to go back to school, you’ll get advice through both the NHS website and also from school about that.”
GPs have also started contacting “particular patient groups”, he added, after the JCVI recommended third doses be given to people with severely weakened immune systems, who are likely to have been unable to mount an immune response from their first two jabs.
That group will cover around half a million people – less than one per cent of the UK population – and the JCVI said the announcement was separate to any decision on a booster programme, which Dr Gardner said “will probably align with the flu [vaccine] programme”.
Meanwhile the medical director of Public Health England (PHE) moved to reassure parents as pupils return to classrooms after the summer holiday, saying schools are not the “drivers” or “hubs” of Covid-19 infection in communities.
Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “There’ll be extra cleaning and hygiene, advice on ventilation (and) the testing is extremely important.”
But Professor Calum Semple said schools are likely to be a “greater part of the problem” when it comes to spread of coronavirus than they previously were, and compared with workplaces where the majority of adults are vaccinated and many continue to work from home.
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