30 admissions with COVID in Derry in 3 weeks

New data shows a steep rise in the number of people being admitted to hospital with COVID in the north west.

The most recent data for the Altnagelvin Area Hospital show that between September 16 to October 6 there were 30 admissions.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) meanwhile now estimates that around one in 40 people in the Western Trust area have COVID based on modelled testing.

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While PCR and lateral flow testing are no longer widely available or in use locally, the hospital figures and new models show COVID cases are on the rise.

Altnagelvin Hospital. Photo: George Sweeney / Derry Journal.

It follows a trend being seen at other hospitals across England, Scotland, Wales and the north, although thankfully the number of people dying with COVID over recent times is much less when compared to similar rates of infection at the start of the pandemic.

In Derry alone the number of admissions at Altnagelvin Hospital over the past three weeks (ten each week) is double the number of admissions of the previous three weeks (15).

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The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is still the dominant variant of Covid here, according to the UKHSA, but three other subvariants, BQ.X, BA.2.75.2, and BF.7, seem to be gaining ground across the UK.

The rise in COVID admissions comes on top of current health and social care pressures in Northern Ireland.

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While routine tests are no longer widely available, Health Minister Robin Swann has urged those eligible to get their COVID and flu jabs.

Health Minister Robin Swann earlier this month said he was “keenly aware of the pressures being felt in our hospitals and across the entire health and social care system”.

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“Pressures that were previously felt during winter peaks are now a recurring theme throughout the year.

“It is important to be honest with the public – these problems are long-standing and there is no quick fix.

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“Get your COVID-19 and flu vaccination jabs if you are eligible and co-operate with hospital discharge processes to help free up beds for others. Please support our great staff in every way you can,” he said.

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Speaking recently about the COVID situation, Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation rates were “at their highest level in months”.

She said: “Outbreaks in hospitals and care homes are also on the rise.

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“Make sure you have any Covid-19 vaccinations you are eligible for and avoid contact with others if you feel unwell or have symptoms of a respiratory infection.

“If you are unwell, it is particularly important to avoid contact with elderly people or those who are more likely to have severe disease because of their ongoing health conditions.

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“If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, wearing a face covering will also help stop infections spreading.”

Professor Martin Michaelis, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Kent, said that the three COVID subvariants identified as mentioned above also seem to be “better at bypassing pre-existing immunity from vaccination and previous infections than BA.5”.

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He said: “It is likely that they already contribute to the increase in Covid-19 cases that we are detecting at the moment.”

An estimated one in 50 people in England and Wales have Covid-19, according to the latest modelling released by the Office for National Statistics. The figure is even higher in Scotland, at one in 45, and Northern Ireland, at one in 40.