Extra intensive care unit opens two months early due to Covid case rise

Outside Homerton Hospital. Pic: Homerton Hospital

Homerton Hospital has been forced to open its extra intensive care unit two months early due to a rise in Covid-19 cases in Hackney.

The ‘escalation ward’ is usually opened during the winter to cope with the normal rise in illnesses, such as the flu. However, it has opened earlier due to the number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital, covering both a whole ward and the escalation ward in intensive care to themselves.

Since last week, there has been a rise of 2.5% in positive tests from the previous week. During that week 36 Covid-19 cases were reported in the Homerton ward, which is a 33% increase from the previous week.

Overall, the total number of cases in Hackney is ten times higher than from April of this year. The total number of deaths in the borough of Hackney is 529, since the start of the pandemic.

Tracey Fletcher, Homerton Hospital chief executive, said: “Ordinarily we would not open our escalation ward until January, if indeed we did open it. There have been years when we haven’t opened it, but we’ve had it open for two weeks”.

Despite this, according to Hackney Council, vaccination rates in the borough are increasing. The total amount of people vaccinated during the week ending November 13 is 174, a 0.5% increase from the previous week. The most unvaccinated age group is 16-24-year-olds.

Dr Sandra Husbands, City and Hackney director of public health, warned that the majority of Covid-19 patients in intensive care are unvaccinated. The number of unvaccinated stands at 144,210 across all ages. 10-19-year-olds currently report the most Covid-19 cases, with a total number of 115 last week.

Husbands said: “If we have enough people with Covid it’s just going to add to the existing NHS pressure and create the situation where not just locally but across the country we may have to go to plan B”.

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