The number of patients needing hospital treatment for Covid is falling Bolton, the first area to be hit hard by the now-dominant Indian variant.
Latest NHS figures show there were 42 people in hospital in the Royal Bolton Hospital with the virus on June 1, last Tuesday, down from 49 at the peak of the new variant scare a week earlier.
The number of people being admitted to hospital each day has tumbled, too, to just three on May 30 compared to 14 five days before. The numbers are trailing a decline in cases which appears to show a spike in new variant cases has come under control.
The same pattern is hopefully beginning to unfold in neighbouring Blackburn, the UK’s current hotspot which has also been hit by the Indian ‘Delta’ strain, where infection numbers among over-60s have started to fall following a rise.
Although the borough’s infection rate was still rising at the end of May, a decline in infections among older people should help officials to keep hospital admissions and deaths under control.
More than 12,000 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant have been spotted so far in the UK and Public Health England last week admitted for the first time that it has become the most common variant in Britain. Almost one in five officially recorded cases – 2,149 – have been in Bolton, with another 724 in Blackburn with Darwen.
But the fact that Bolton has turned the tide of the super-infectious strain suggests it can be successfully controlled without lockdowns, instead using testing, contact tracing and vaccinations.
The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid in Bolton began declining in the final week of May, as did the total number of people on wards. The figures suggest the town managed to prevent a surge in infections caused by the new Indian variant from turning into disaster. The number of patients on ventilators continued to increase, which was likely a function of people already in hospital getting progressively ill – but numbers remain low at just 11 on June 1
Covid hospital admissions started rising in Bolton in the first week of May around 10 days after cases began to rise — it can take several weeks for infected patients to become ill enough to need medical care.
The town, home to around 200,000 people, was the first alarm bell that the Indian variant was taking off in Britain, as cases exploded there and a testing surge discovered hundreds of people infected with the strain.
Its coronavirus infection rate spiked 10-fold from just 44 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending April 22 to a peak of 453 per 100,000 a month later on May 21.
Cases have been most common in under-55s, who are least likely to have had two doses of a vaccine, but hospital admissions rose in the wake of the rocketing cases. Only a small fraction of patients had been fully vaccinated.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week admitted the link between infections and hospital admissions, which vaccines should separate, has so far been ‘broken but not completely severed’.
Positive tests in Bolton started to come down in mid-May, falling from an average 186 per day on May 18 to 148 by May 29, with signs suggesting they fell even further last week. The most recent infection rate is 355 per 100,000.
Positive tests in Bolton started to come down in mid-May, falling from an average 186 per day on May 18 to 148 by May 29, with signs suggesting they fell even further last week. The most recent infection rate is 355 per 100,000
The turning point in hospital admissions appeared to come a week later, peaking on May 25 with 14 people taken in to hospital, with the total number in hospital appearing to have started dropping on May 28.
Leader of the local vaccine programme Dr Helen Wall said last week that hospital admissions were ‘stabilising and staying stable’, the Manchester Evening News reported.
“We are not seeing the same rapid spikes that we have previously, but we can’t rest on that, she said.
‘I believe it is because of the vaccines and because of the number of people that we have got vaccinated in this time, that we have seen that benefit.’
Public health chiefs will hope the same trend plays out in Blackburn with Darwen, a nearby borough in Lancashire that is home to around 150,000 people.
Infection rates have been climbing quickly in Blackburn, rising from 50 cases per 100,000 people at the end of April to 488 per 100,000 by June 1. It is now the UK’s coronavirus hotspot after taking over from Bolton last week and has seen the second highest number of Indian variant cases – 724 recorded so far
Department of Health figures show that the infection rate among people aged 60 or older peaked on May 26 at 129 cases per 100,000 people and have since fallen to 95 per 100,000, having spiked from just 14 at the end of April
Infection rates have been climbing quickly there, rising from 50 cases per 100,000 people at the end of April to 488 per 100,000 by June 1.
Hospital admissions are climbing gradually behind and could surge further in the coming days and weeks – currently an average five people per day are being taken into hospital at the East Lancashire NHS Trust, which covers Blackburn, Burnley and Clitheroe.
And there are a total of 27 people in hospital with Covid there – the highest number since mid-March.
In one promising sign for Blackburn – now Britain’s coronavirus hotspot after overtaking Bolton last week – cases in over-60s are already falling.
Department of Health figures show that the infection rate among people aged 60 or older peaked on May 26 at 129 cases per 100,000 people and have since fallen to 95 per 100,000, having spiked from just 14 at the end of April.
In under-60s during the same time, however, the rate has risen from around 50 per 100,000 in the last week of April to 455 per 100,000 by May 26 and continued upwards to 584 by June 1.
Hospital admissions are climbing gradually behind cases in Blackburn and could surge further in the coming days and weeks – currently an average five people per day are being taken into hospital at the East Lancashire NHS Trust, which covers Blackburn, Burnley and Clitheroe
A decline in infections among older people should help to keep the number of people who die of the disease down, and acts as proof that double-dose vaccines are working, while single doses are perhaps less effective – younger adults are less likely to have had both their jabs.
Scientists are calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay the full unlocking planned for June 21 to try and get booster jabs out to as many people as possible.
Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to No10 and now chair of Independent SAGE, said on Times Radio today: ‘I’m very reluctant to say that we should not go out of lockdown on June 21 but I think the figures are in now, and it will be wise for the Government to announce right away a delay in opening, just so that we can all plan for the post June 21 period.’