Hospitals have been warned they must clear beds and brace themselves for a rise in coronavirus patients in the next few weeks.
Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths are all on the rise, government figures revealed yesterday as more than 10 million people will soon be living under local lockdowns as the North East became the latest to impose restrictions.
Yesterday another 3,395 Covid-19 infections were recorded, meaning the rolling seven-day average number of cases has risen 2 per cent in a day and 33 per cent in a week to 3,354.
The uptick is prompting concerns the country is moving towards a second peak of the virus. MPs in London have been informed of plans to increase ‘step down’ beds in the capital, as reported by The Telegraph.
The beds will be made available to coronavirus patients who no longer need any hospital treatment, but can recover from the disease while isolating.
The data comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned hospitalisations are doubling every eight days and that the outbreak is accelerating, meaning it is ‘critical’ that people follow social distancing and lockdown rules.
Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths are all on the rise, government figures revealed yesterday. Pictured: A volunteer patient demonstrating a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care
One MP who has seen the plans told the newspaper: ‘I was told hospitals have reserved beds for people coming out of hospital who need somewhere to re-cover.
‘At the start of lockdown they were having to send people back to care homes or back to other facilities, with dire consequences, so they’ve booked places in respite care or empty care homes, so people will go out of hospital, but won’t return to their normal place of living.’
Another source said that councils have also been asked to find extra beds.
In an interview with BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr Hancock warned that it was ‘absolutely critical’ that people continued to follow the basic rules with regard to coronavirus.
He said: ‘We have seen an acceleration in the number of cases over the last couple of weeks and we’ve also sadly seen that the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is doubling about every eight days, so we do need to take action.’
Government statistics show 194 newly-infected Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in England on Tuesday, compared to just 84 eight days ago and just 38 on August 30. It means 154 patients are needing NHS care each day, on average — triple the figure of 52 on September 1.
More than 3,000 people each day were being admitted to NHS hospitals during the peak of the first wave in April. Analysis suggests, at the current trend, it would take little more than three weeks for daily admissions to top 2,000.
And a top infectious disease expert today warned that it is ‘plausible’ the doubling rate of every eight days could continue. Professor Paul Hunter, of University of East Anglia, told MailOnline the number of admissions could surpass the daily rate seen in March and April in just a month’s time.
It comes amid more testing chaos yesterday as Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, revealed that demand for coronavirus tests is currently up to four times greater than the system’s capacity.
The government’s testing tzar also blamed the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) for seemingly getting its predictions wrong as she said testing capacity had been built based on the panel’s recommendations.
TEST & TRACE ‘COULD BE OUTSOURCED TO AMAZON’
By Lizzie Deane for the Daily Mail
THE UK’S test and trace system could be outsourced to a delivery giant such as Amazon, it was reported last night.
Ministers are said to be planning to hand over the running of the testing service to a logistics firm as the system struggles to cope with increased demand for tests.
A invitation to bid for a contract covering the management of the entire ‘end-to-end’ supply chain will be issued next month, The Daily Telegraph reported.
A Government source said ‘experts in delivery services’ were needed. ‘At the moment, the management of NHS Test and Trace has been in-house but, as we go into winter, we need experts in this area to take it forward,’ they said.
Amazon, DHL and other major logistics firms are all reportedly likely to be competing for the huge contract which will be the linchpin of the Health Secretary’s promise to deliver 500,000 tests a day by the end of next month.
An information notice issued by the Department of Health calls for potential bidders to register their interest in the contract to co-ordinate the testing service’s supply change.
It says: ‘In order to significantly scale up the number of daily tests as well as making the operations more efficient, we are looking for an end-to-end management of all associated supply chain and logistics processes along the chain.’
Last night it emerged the country’s faltering testing system could be outsourced to Amazon, as reported by The Telegraph.
A source said: ‘At the moment the man- agement of NHS Test and Trace has been in-house but as we go into winter we need experts in this area to take it forward.’
The government is also expected to announce tighter restrictions on care home visits in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases are expected to be announced by the Government in its winter action plan.
Care homes in areas subject to local lockdowns may be advised to temporarily restrict visits in all but end-of-life situations, it is understood.
For parts of the country where there is no local lockdown, but where community transmission is a cause for concern, an option officials are considering is advising that visits are restricted to one designated visitor per resident.
The Government will set out further details on Friday in its social care action plan to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.
As part of the plan, care homes will receive free protective equipment and providers must stop ‘all but essential’ movement of staff between homes, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
This will be supported by an additional £546 million announced on Thursday as part of the extended infection control fund.
A new dashboard will monitor care home infections and help local government and providers respond quickly.
And a chief nurse for adult social care will be appointed to represent social care nurses and provide ‘clinical leadership’.
Local authorities and the Care Quality Commission will be asked to take ‘strong action’ in instances where providers are not restricting staff movement adequately.
The DHSC said this could include restricting a service’s operation and issuing warning notices.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We are entering a critical phase in our fight against coronavirus with winter on the horizon.
‘Our priority over the next six months is to make sure we protect those most vulnerable receiving care and our incredibly hard-working workforce by limiting the spread of the virus and preventing a second spike.
It comes amid more testing chaos yesterday as Baroness Dido Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, revealed that demand for coronavirus tests is currently up to four times greater than the system’s capacity
‘This winter plan gives providers the certainty they need when it comes to PPE and provides additional support to help care homes to limit the movement of staff, stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
‘We will be monitoring the implementation of this carefully and will be swift in our actions to protect residents and colleagues across the country.’
It comes as Age UK said some older people are ‘dying of sadness’ because they have been cut off from loved ones over a long period of time.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams said it is important the plan achieves an ‘appropriate balance’ between ensuring infection control and allowing residents to keep in contact with loved ones.
She said: ‘All in all what we have seen so far is promising, but we will await with interest to read what the plan says about visiting in care homes.
‘With Covid-19 cases on the rise and winter on the way it’s right that every activity that could potentially place residents at risk is considered very carefully, including visiting, but any sense of a ‘blanket ban’ would be highly inappropriate, however anxious we may all feel.
‘Risks, capabilities and opportunities of all kinds differ hugely across care homes and for the sake of older people this enormous variation must be taken fully into account.’
Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow social care minister, welcomed the appointment of a chief nurse and increased funding.
She continued: ‘But the real test of this plan is whether the Government delivers on weekly testing of all care staff – first promised in July but still not delivered, with serious concerns about delays in getting results back.
‘Ensuring families can visit their loved ones is also critical, as without this care home residents can end up fading fast.’