Covid hospital admissions have stalled ahead of another expected wave fueled by the ‘Kraken’ variant, figures suggest.
NHS statistics show that virus pressure peaked in mid-December, when XBB-1.5 first began to be detected in Britain, and has been falling ever since. Influenza admissions also plummeted during the last week of 2022.
Experts hope both drops are genuine, as hospitals in crisis are currently being hit by a ‘twin demic’ that has prompted calls for a return to pandemic-era restrictions like face masks and mass testing.
But officials admit the recession could be a problem caused by reporting delays over the Christmas period.
The graph shows weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 people for Covid (red) and flu (blue). Surveillance figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed Covid admissions sit at 12 to 11 per 100,000 people, while admissions fell to 8 per 100,000 in the week to January 1. .
NHS data shows that, on average, 995 people infected with Covid were admitted to hospitals in England in the week of January 2. The figures suggest that the number of people seeking NHS care due to the virus, on average, peaked on December 23 (1,154) and has been on a downward trend since
Nami flu has spread across the NHS in England, the latest round of data from the health service shows, with more than 3,800 admissions for the virus on December 23. The graph shows the number of beds in wards occupied by people with influenza (red) and the number of beds occupied due to the virus in intensive care (blue).
Data from NHS England today showed that an average of 63,000 employees were not working every weekday until Christmas (red line). Around 8,000 of the absences were due to Covid (blue line)
Ambulance delivery delays peaked on December 19 with more than 3,000 patients forced to wait for more than an hour in the back of an emergency vehicle, unable to unload them into a hospital bed.
Massive strain on the NHS, brought on by staff shortages and record levels of bed blockers, as well as covid and flu, has led to a rise in excess deaths, analysts fear.
Nearly 15,000 people died in England and Wales in the week before Christmas, when pressures on the health service were described as the most intense. Deaths were about a fifth higher than what is normally seen in the pre-pandemic time of year.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has warned that the rise in deaths is “undoubtedly” linked to record delays in emergency care.
NHS data shows that, on average, 995 covid-infected people were admitted to hospitals across England in the week of January 2.
The figures suggest that the number of people seeking NHS care due to the virus, on average, peaked on December 23 (1,154) and has trended downward ever since.
The numbers include patients who are not actually sick with the virus and who, by the way, have tested positive.
On top of this, weekly surveillance figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed Covid admissions sitting at 12 to 11 per 100,000 people.
Covid admission rates were highest among the elderly, at 131 per 100,000 for ages 85 and older and 52 per 100,000 for people ages 75 to 84.
Separate UKHSA data, also published today, suggests that influenza admissions have fallen dramatically over the festive period.
Influenza hospitalizations soared to the highest level seen in a decade in the week before Christmas, with 15 admissions per 100,000 people.
But admissions nearly halved in the week of January 1, reaching 8 per 100,000.
Influenza hospitalizations continue to be highest among older age groups, at 62 per 100,000 for people 85 years and older and 32 per 100,000 for people 75 to 84 years.
Despite the drop, health chiefs warn the rate is still higher than any point in the previous four winters.
And there can often be a slight reduction in recorded levels of hospital activity over the festive period, which this winter included the weekend of December 24 and 25, followed by the public holidays of December 26 and 27.
Therefore, the latest data could have been affected by some hospitals not returning a full set of figures, along with “reporting delays and bank holidays over Christmas and New Years,” UKHSA said.
But there may also have been a temporary reduction in virus transmission due to “reductions in rates of social contact during the holidays”, with fewer people traveling and many communal buildings closed, the agency said.
Figures from the Sanger Institute, one of the UK’s largest Covid surveillance centres, show that 4 per cent of cases in the week to December 17 were caused by XBB.1.5 (shown in purple, Lower right corner)
December 17th marked the first time that XBB.1.5 was listed on the institute’s virus panel, which is updated weekly.
Steve Russell, the health service’s director of vaccination and screening, said the NHS had given nearly 20 million flu shots to around four in five people aged 65 and over.
It means 13 million have not shown up for the vaccine.
But flu admissions “remain very high,” so it “remains vital” that all eligible people, including pregnant women and two- and three-year-olds, who haven’t received a flu shot book one. as soon as possible.
UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries said there had been a “dramatic increase” in the number of flu admissions ahead of Christmas but that they had started to fall in recent days.
She said: ‘I urge everyone who is eligible to come forward for your free flu shot, which is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness.
‘Flu vaccine uptake is particularly low in two- and three-year-olds, so if your child is eligible, take him up on the offer urgently.
“Covid also continues to circulate at high levels and anyone eligible for a booster who has not already taken it should come forward.”
Dame Jenny added: ‘Try to stay home when you’re not feeling well and if you have to go out, a face covering can help prevent the spread of germs to other people. Do not visit vulnerable people if you are not feeling well.
In response to the rise in seasonal viruses and in a call to reduce pressure on the NHS, health chiefs have issued new calls for sick Britons to refrain from work if they feel unwell and to wear a mask if they must go out.
Children who are sick and have a fever should stay home from school, UKHSA bosses said.
Other more pessimistic experts have gone even further amid record pressures on the NHS and the emergence of Omicron’s XBB.1.5 subvariant, which has been called the most contagious strain yet by World Health Organization officials. Health.
Some scientists urged people to work from home whenever possible, reduce their social contacts and wear masks in crowded places, even if they are not sick.
However, a group of Tory MPs and scientists have dismissed these calls. They warned that the annual NHS winter crisis cannot be used as an “excuse to reintroduce Covid-era restrictions”.