Thirty patients admitted to James Cook University Hospital with Covid-19 in 48 hours as medics warn 'vaccine isn't perfect'

Three Covid wards are now open at a major Teesside hospital after 30 virus patients were admitted to a trust in the space of 48 hours.

James Cook University Hospital

Officials at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust have confirmed 84 people with covid are now being treated at its sites - with three virus wards operating at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. Eight of the 84 are receiving critical care.

It comes after figures on Tuesday showed 54 covid patients were being treated at the trust - 10 of whom were receiving the highest level of care.

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The South Tees catchment area includes the North Yorkshire districts of Hambleton and Richmondshire.

Hospital officials say covid patients being seen are younger than those cared for in previous waves.

A South Tees spokesman said: “Although the number of people in hospital is much lower than we saw in the winter thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, the rise in community infection rates has meant we have seen an increase in patients needing Covid care.

“That is why it is so important that people get double-jabbed, stick to the rules around hospital visiting, which remains restricted, stay vigilant and exercise caution.

“The increase in community infections has inevitably impacted on our colleagues as well as the wider public and everyone is working hard to make sure patients - including those whose care has been disrupted by the pandemic - receive the care they need.

“The experienced clinicians who have guided our response throughout the pandemic are reviewing the situation on a day-by-day basis.”

Elective surgeries are continuing at the trust for now.

Restrictions on visiting which have been in place throughout the pandemic remain - with outpatients urged to attend clinics and appointments on their own wherever possible.

On Tuesday, South Tees public health chief Mark Adams revealed 15 of the 54 patients on hospital wards were aged over 70 in a presentation to Middlesbrough health scrutiny panel.

“We know anecdotally there are people in hospital who’ve received both jabs,” said Mr Adams.

“The vaccine isn’t perfect - it significantly reduces risk but it doesn’t reduce it down to zero. There was a bit of dispute at the weekend about whether the link between community infection rates and hospitalisation was broken or diminished due to the vaccination programme. It’s definitely diminished but it’s definitely not broken.”

But Mr Adams said the number of over 50s with no jab - a total of more than 4,600 people - was only falling “very slowly”.

The panel was also told how the hospital trust was trying to get back on track when it came to cancer treatment and the backlog of surgeries from the pandemic.

Neighbouring North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust was treating 23 covid patients on Thursday - six of whom were in intensive care.

Respiratory consultant Cath Monaghan said the trust had seen a rise in patients as well as the number of staff having to self-isolate.

She added: “The advice to our community is to please continue to play your part in protecting yourself - the most effective way of doing this is by having the vaccine.

“Continuing the good habits we have practiced over the last 18 months is also going to be so important in helping us reduce transmission - including keeping up our good hand hygiene routines

. “At the outbreak of the pandemic we were responding to a virus we had never faced before. We now know much more about how to both protect against the illness and how to treat it effectively.”

South Tees Covid patient numbers

July 15 - 84

July 13 - 54

July 9 - 52

June 21 - 12

May 4 - <12

April 29 - 14

April 6 - 27

March 24 - 37

March 2 - 101

February 22 - 128