Covid deaths to remain high for some time

Alistair Hill

Deaths from covid-19 are currently at their highest in Brighton and Hove and are likely to remain high over the next few weeks.

The news came as the city’s director of public health Alistair Hill said the number of cases, dated from a positive test, is coming down across the city.

But the lag from cases to deaths means it will still be some time before the latter also starts to fall.

Data presented to Brighton and Hove City Councils Health and Wellbeing Board on Tuesday 26 January, showed cases peaked from late March to early May, and again from mid-December to 15 January.

The week ending 15 January has the highest death rate, equalling the highest numbers in April.

Mr Hill said: “We are aware as we have seen from the infection data and the hospital data lags after that and then the death data will lag after that.

“We do know from reports from the hospital, from care homes, and from our registrars we do expect these figures to remain high for a few weeks.”

In December, when testing was at its highest rate, the proportion of positive cases went up from five per cent of those tested to 18 per cent out of a surge of 15,000 tests a day just before Christmas, due to the new more contagious variant.

Mr Hill said there is spare capacity in Brighton and Hove’s testing sites and people should make sure they have a test if they are experiencing symptoms.

The number of confirmed cases rate is still relatively high with 11.9 per cent of tests resulting in a positive.

As of Tuesday, 325 people tested positive for covid-19 out of every 100,000 population in Brighton and Hove, which is a 38 per cent decrease compared with the previous week.

This is a similar rate to what health bosses considered “very high” in early December but is decreasing day by day.

Mr Hill put the falling rate of covid-19 in the city to the effectiveness of lockdown.

Green councillor Sarah Nield asked Mr Hill why he thought there had been a sharp decrease in the number of cases in the city in recent weeks.

Mr Hill said people are following the lockdown guidance as Google data shows more people in Brighton and Hove are staying at home.

He put this down to a significant majority having the ability to work from home, even though there are still many frontline critical workers in the city.

At the height of the second wave from late December to early January, the highest number of cases were within the working adult age range from 30 to 39 and 40 to 59, with young adults from 15 to 29 having the third-highest rate of covid-19 cases.

But although rates in those age groups are coming down fairly quickly, cases among the over 65s have not dropped in the same way.

Executive director of health and adult social care Rob Persey said 40 care homes in the city, 43 per cent of all homes, have covid-19 cases. Care homes with outbreaks are closed to new admissions for 28 days.

Mr Persey said: “That’s the highest it has been. I’m afraid the situation is very serious.

“We are engaged with all those care homes.”

He said since last week there are three fewer care homes with two or more cases, but four more with one case.

Also, 13 care providers looking after people at home have cases, the most since the pandemic began.

However, fewer care home staff are infected with cases in the last week reducing from 123 to 103.

After a positive test, any care home resident receiving treatment in hospital is not discharged back to a home within 14 days as this is their infectious period.

Mr Persey said if they are medically ready for discharge they are sent to a dedicated site for those who are still infectious but do not require hospital treatment.

Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) managing director Lola Banjoko said demand on the NHS and care services has risen in the last three weeks due to the high infection rates since the height of positive tests just before Christmas.

She said medical staff have worked under “sustained pressure” for nearly a year.

As of Monday 25 January, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, which includes Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal in Haywards Health, has 227 covid positive patients which works out as 26 per cent of open beds.

Of these, 49 people are in critical care, and 20 are on mechanical ventilation.

She also praised the council for working to support discharging people who are medically ready to leave hospital.

Dr Banjoko said routine elective operations are postponed but urgent cancer care and elective surgery is continuing.

CCG clinical chair Dr Andrew Hodson confirmed nearly all nursing home patients are vaccinated, and now the focus is on housebound people through GP surgeries.

He said the mass vaccination sites and hospitals are delivering vaccinations to the wider communities.

Dr Hodson said: “It’s a methodical working through of the cohorts and tiers.

“We’re only giving one vaccination now to get as many of the vulnerable patients vaccinated as possible and try to turn that curve.”

Professor Samer Bagaeen asked about parking at the Brighton Centre after hearing a resident invited for vaccination was told nothing was available.

How to get free parking when you go for your vaccination at the Brighton Centre:

  • Park in the orange car park (Churchill 1), which is located in Regency Road East, BN1 2RU. The vehicle height restriction is 2.13m
  • Enter the car park via lane 1 (left hand lane)
  • On arrival take a ticket from the car park barrier
  • Explain to the Churchill Square Security Officer that you are attending the Brighton Centre for a COVID-19 vaccination. You will need to provide proof of vaccination appointment for that day (showing the confirmation you have received on your phone is fine).
  • The security officer will then validate your ticket.

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