Number of Covid patients in hospital is still rising but ICU admissions are FALLING

THE NUMBER of people in hospital with the coronavirus is still rising but intensive care admissions are falling, data has revealed.

It comes after experts claimed that cases of the virus flatlined two weeks ago as infections continue to drop across the country.

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The graphs above show how the first wave has differed from the second when it comes to hospital patients and ICU admissions.

The blue line shows the first wave and the red the second. The top figure at the end of the red line shows how many days into the second wave we are and the figure underneath shows the number of patients.

Speaking to The Sun, Professor Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia today said that the drop in ICU admissions could be down to the fact that we don't have to ventilate as many people now due to treatments such as dexamethasone.

England was plunged into a second lockdown which the government said was needed to stop the spread.

NHS experts previously said that the second national lockdown needed to be implemented to relief pressure on the NHS and to stop it reaching full capacity.

Data provided by the government shows that at the peak of the first wave of the virus, which started in March, there were over 19,000 people in hospital with Covid.

This started to decline until eventually reaching over 800 patients a day in the summer months.

Since the start of the second wave in September, the number of people in hospital with Covid has gradually increased and currently sits at nearly 15,000-a-day.

These figures represent people who are being treated in hospitals for the virus and take into consideration people who may have already been admitted with other illnesses and were found to have coronavirus.

The government's coronavirus dashboard states that in the seven days up to November 13, 11,973 people have been admitted to hospital with 1,843 being admitted on a daily basis.

It also states there are currently 14,915 patients in hospital with the virus – this figure was last updated last night at around 6pm.

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University yesterday said hospitals are not being overwhelmed and that they are running at “normal” capacity for this time of year.

He said: "What we are seeing is they are at about 84 per cent of capacity, which is normal for this time of year.

“There are some pressures around the system, in the Midlands where we are seeing cases go up slightly, they have critical care units two of them are at surge capacity.

“Over 200 acute hospitals collect data in their critical care units, about 70 per cent of them are at normal pressures at this time of year.

“What we have seen with cases, this is really important about this yo-yo of lockdown and opening up and closing down, is they were flatlining about two weeks ago.”

ICU admissions

Separate data from the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre revealed that ICU admissions were declining.

This shows that once people are being treated in hospital for the virus – they are less likely to need to be admitted to intensive care.

This could be due to the fact that the UK now has more advanced treatments for the virus and has a great understanding of how it works.

Speaking to The Sun, Prof Hunter said it's clear less people are being "mechanically ventilated".

"From the last ICNARC report it is clear that many fewer patients are being “invasively ventilated” now compared to the first 6 months of the epidemic (22.8 per cent compared to 54.3 per cent )."

He said it was't clear whether or not NHS data includes people where mechanical ventilation could be given or whether it only included people who are being given mechanical ventilation.

Prof Hunter added: "The big drop is largely because we now know we do not have to ventilate as many people as before and partly because of the use of dexamethasone.

"Also younger people are still being admitted to hospital but are much less likely to need ventilation.

"But too early to say for certain whether case numbers in mechanical ventilation beds really are declining. "

At the peak of the pandemic, 396 people a day were in intensive care with the virus and this number currently sits at 83.

 

The government's coronavirus dashboard states that there is currently 1,355 patients on ventilation.

Data provided on hospitalisations and deaths is usually subject to a two week lag.

This means that infections seen this week – may not equate to hospitalisations until two weeks' time.

This also means that the result of the second national lockdown might not be visible for another week.

Warnings around deaths and hospital admissions were previously issued to the general public in order to urge people to curb the spread.

Last month top health boss Stephen Powis delivered a grim warning and claimed that the number of Covid patients in hospital in October had been higher than the first lockdown in March.

He said the health service was readying itself for a fresh battle against the virus and a handful of Nightingale hospitals will be mobilised to ensure there is enough space.

At the start of November Sir Simon Stevens said that more than 11,000 Covid patients are being treated in England's hospitals.

Cases decreasing

Last week experts at King’s College London revealed that data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app found that cases were decreasing.

The data published on Friday suggested that there are currently 35,963 daily new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK.

This compares to 42,049 daily new symptomatic cases this time last week, according to the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app.

The data also shows that the R rate in the North West is now at 0.8 – the lowest in the country, despite being the Covid epicentre just weeks ago.

Daily new cases in the region are now back down to the same levels they were at the beginning of October.

On Friday the government also released its prediction on the R rate, which revealed that the rate has fallen and that it could be as low as 0.9 in the North West.

The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on to – is estimated to be between 1.0 and 1.2.

Despite this the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today reported that the number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending November 6 was 11,812.

Of these deaths 1,937 mentioned the coronavirus and this accounted for over 16 per cent of the deaths.

The report also stated that hospital deaths have risen.

"The number of deaths in hospitals was above the five-year average in Week 45 for the third consecutive week (520 more deaths); the number of deaths in private homes and care homes was also above the five-year average (997 and 38 more deaths respectively), but deaths in other locations were below the five-year average (76 fewer deaths)."

One expert highlighted that deaths outside of hospitals had also gone up.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair, Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge said there needs to be more done around end of life care as the pandemic continues to stretch resources.

He said: “Usually around 2,500 people die at home each week at this time of year – now it is 3,500. That is 1,000 more, an extra 40 per cent. 

"These extra home deaths, very few of which are from Covid, have continued since March.  it would be very good to know the quality of end-of-life care being received, and how many of these deaths might have been delayed through, for example, more rapid treatment of heart attacks and strokes.

"When we look at the main underlying cause of death in England and Wales that week, there were 1,743 deaths for which it was Covid-19, compared to 307 as influenza or pneumonia. 

"And usually only a small proportion of deaths from 'influenza and pneumonia' are from flu itself,  and so Covid is definitely not in the least like flu."

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