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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Kit Vickery

Greater Manchester covid hospital admissions rise 50 per cent in a week fuelling 'new wave' fears

The number of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 has jumped in the biggest rise since the peak of the last wave of infection, sparking fears that a new wave could be upon us in time for a potential "twindemic" of both coronavirus and flu.

In Greater Manchester, 207 patients were admitted to hospital with Covid in the week ending September 26 - up 51 per cent from the week before where 137 people were taken into hospital. A graph showing the coronavirus hospital admissions over the last year illustrates that this figure is quite low when compared to the start of the year when more than 1,200 patients were admitted with coronavirus in a week.

However, it is the biggest jump in admissions since the peak of the last wave, which saw 784 people admitted in the week ending July 10, with similar spikes seen at the start of previous waves. Last week, the number of patients hospitalised with the virus nationally rose by 37 per cent, to 7,024 as of September 28, prompting experts to say an "autumn wave" had hit the country.

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According to the PA news agency, around six in 10 patients who test positive for Covid-19 are being treated primarily for something else. However, they need to be isolated from patients who do not have Covid, putting extra pressure on hospital staff already struggling to clear a record backlog of treatment.

Separate data from the Zoe Health Study, collected through a phone app and based on symptoms reported by volunteers across the country, suggests an average of one in 32 people in the UK was likely to have symptomatic Covid-19 at the start of this week, with rates rising in all age groups. Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the Zoe study, said: “It’s clear we’re now seeing an autumn wave of Covid-19, combined with increases in hospital admissions.

"With rates on the rise, especially in the vulnerable elderly age groups, the impact on hospitalisations could be higher. However, the youngest age group are showing possible early signs of case numbers slowing. Children tend to be a leader of infection trends, so if this continues next week it is possible that the Covid wave might not be as bad as previously predicted.”

The increase in hospitalisations came as Professor Spector told The Independent the UK could be in for "real problems" this winter as data was starting to show new subvariants of Omicron were becoming immune-evasive. Symptoms are also changing, with a sore throat now the dominant symptom of an infection and few people actually experiencing the previously common loss of smell or fever.

As predicted, the number of infections has also risen, with positive tests up 48 per cent from the previous week in Greater Manchester. However, the infection rate of 50.2 cases per 100,000 people is not considered to be a true indication of the number of cases in the region, due to the fact there is no longer widespread access to free testing.

Manchester’s public health chief is urging people to take up the Autumn Covid booster offer and the flu vaccination to avoid the potential "twindemic" of catching both viruses at the same time, after two years of flu cases at historic lows due to isolation and social distancing.

However, there is evidence that flu rates are returning towards normal levels in the southern hemisphere, and the predicted rise in coronavirus infections as we head into winter could spell trouble if people catch both illnesses at the same time, David Regan, Director of Public Health for Manchester, said.

“We do expect high levels of Covid again this winter," he explained. "That, coupled with the risk of flu means that we all have to do everything possible to stop people becoming seriously ill and it’s even more important that we protect those most at risk.

“Many people will think they don’t need another vaccine because they have already had Covid, or the vaccine didn’t stop them from getting the virus. But, immunity wears off and even if the vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting the virus, it should stop you from getting it as badly and reduce the risk of Long Covid. And if new variants arrive in time to cause widespread infection, boosters for older adults and those with health conditions will also be critical in reducing pressure on hospital services, too.”

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