Coronavirus: Number of patients hospitalised up 50 per cent in just a few days

30 March 2020, 22:55

A ward in Milton Keynes hospital prepared for intensive care patients as coronavirus cases increase
A ward in Milton Keynes hospital prepared for intensive care patients as coronavirus cases increase. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The number of people being treated for coronavirus in England's hospitals has risen by almost 50 per cent in just a few days, according to new figures.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the number had jumped from 6,200 on Friday to more than 9,000 on Monday.

England's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the NHS was seeing around an additional 1,000 patients a day and described this daily rise as "stable".

He told the daily press briefing: "I do expect that number to continue. I expect people coming every day to be about that, it may go up a little bit.

"And in two or three weeks you would expect that to stabilise and to start to go down a bit."

Sir Patrick also said social distancing measures are "making a difference" and transmission of coronavirus in the community is thought be decreasing.

1,408 people are now confirmed to have died in UK hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19, as of 5pm on Sunday.

This is up 180 from 1,228 the day before.

Earlier the head of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Professor Andrew Goddard said around one in four NHS doctors are off work sick or in isolation.

Public Health England (PHE) also announced that almost 11,000 coronavirus tests a day can now be carried out.

The Government had set a target of carrying out 10,000 tests a day by Sunday but PHE figures show 9,114 had been carried out as of 9am on Saturday and 8,278 had been carried out by the same time on Sunday.

PHE said fluctuation in the number of tests reported each day is to be expected but testing numbers are increasing overall.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will this week release figures on deaths involving Covid-19 in the wider community, such as care homes.

The ONS will look at deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.

These figures are likely to offer detail on how many community deaths involve coronavirus, rather than just looking at deaths in hospitals.

Sir Patrick said these ONS figures would provide "extra numbers" but they would not be "large."

Speaking on a visit to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital on the ExCeL site in east London, Sir Simon said that the number of patients will increase, but extra capacity is being made available.

He said: "Today, there are over 9,000 positive coronavirus patients in hospitals across England and we know that number is only going to increase.

"That's why what you see here is a mass mobilisation, taking place right across the country, but also at these new Nightingale hospitals.

"We have got available intensive care and available hospital beds but we are also bringing online additional capacity such as these Nightingale hospitals as we need them."

Prof Goddard said hospital wards across England "are going from normal wards to Covid wards very quickly".

Asked about the pressure on intensive care units, Prof Goddard told PA: "Some hospitals are really at the limit.

"Within London it's very, very difficult at the moment, you can't underestimate how difficult it is."

It comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said on Sunday that around one in five nurses had taken time off work to self-isolate.

It comes as Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's chief adviser, became the latest in Westminster to self-isolate after developing symptoms.

He joins Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who are all in self-isolation due to Covid-19.

Earlier on Monday, University College London (UCL) announced that a breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care has been developed by mechanical engineers, medics and the Mercedes Formula One team.

The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help coronavirus patients and bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation.

Downing Street said the NHS had been given the go-ahead to order as many of the machines as it needs after trials were successful.

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