Devon Covid-19 hospitalisations falling; health boss warns of 'challenging winter'

By Ollie Heptinstall - Local Democracy Reporter

29th Jul 2022 | Local News

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Google Maps)
Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Google Maps)

The number of people with Covid in Devon's hospitals has fallen sharply over the past fortnight, but one leading health boss is warning of a "challenging winter."

As of Tuesday 26 July, 166 patients were in hospital in the county with the virus, down from a recent peak of 334 on 11 July. Two people are in mechanically ventilated beds.

For most people, Covid is no longer the reason they are admitted in the first place: Two-thirds test positive once in hospital.

However, while Devon's director of public health says it is "really good to see hospitalisations down," he warned there is "still some caution required, particularly as we enter the autumn and winter period."

Speaking to a Team Devon meeting of local leaders on Thursday [28 July], Steve Brown urged eligible people to come forward and have flu and Covid booster jabs when the time comes.

He believes the Covid booster jab will be launched in the first week of September. Everyone aged 50 and over, care home residents, frontline health care staff and the clinically vulnerable will be eligible.

"In terms of Covid, we do know historically that [in the] winter period we can see a higher rate, so that vaccination programme for Covid-19 is going to be really, really important," Mr Brown said.

He added the Southern Hemisphere – where it is currently winter – is seeing "quite high numbers" of flu in adults and children. "So, the flu vaccination is going to be equally important."

The meeting was also told the current cost-of-living crisis, with energy bills set to rise sharply again in the autumn, could cause further pressure during what Mr Brown predicts to be a "challenging winter ahead."

He warned: "We're going to have vulnerable people who are going to potentially be at risk from living in cold environments, as well as Covid, as well as the flu."

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