Hospital on coronavirus lockdown after outbreak hits intensive care and renal wards
A hospital has been partially locked down due to a coronavirus outbreak in its intensive care and renal wards.
Ambulances have been diverted from the A&E department and there are restrictions on visitors at St Helier Hospital in Sutton, south London.
The infections were discovered over the weekend, and a major investigation has been launched into how patients being treated for other illnesses became infected with Covid-19.
It is believed that six patients were infected. There is concern that the virus has got into the hospital’s intensive care unit which houses the most sick patients.
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A hospital source said: “Infection control in intensive care is very strict. It’s very concerning that people fighting for their life already have become infected.”
A spokesman for Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust said: “A small number of patients have tested positive for Covid-19 during admission to the renal department and intensive care unit at St Helier Hospital.
“The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is our priority and those who tested positive have been isolated from other patients, with arrangements in place to maintain safe and high-quality care.
“We continue to follow all relevant infection prevention and control guidelines.
“Visiting has been restricted for some areas, as soon as clinicians are confident that the measures can be lifted in a way that is safe for patients and staff, they will be.”
The Government has been under pressure for months to introduce routine weekly testing of hospital staff for coronavirus.
Last week the House of Commons Health Committee added its weight to the call for regular testing to protect patients.
Covid-19 infections have hit several other hospitals in recent weeks.
In Essex, Basildon Hospital was struck by an outbreak of coronavirus with at least 21 staff and patients infected.
The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said the hospital was operating as normal and “robust infection prevention and control measures” were in place.
Meanwhile, the number of weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has risen by more than half in seven days, official figures show.
There were 215 deaths registered in the week ending September 25 mentioning “novel coronavirus” – 2.2% of all deaths in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
it was the third weekly rise in a row and represents a 54.6% increase in deaths involving Covid-19 from the previous week, when 139 deaths were registered.
The number of deaths involving coronavirus increased in eight of nine regions in England, and in Wales.
Just two areas – London and the East – had lower overall deaths than the average over five years for this time of year.
Overall, there were 9,634 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending September 25 – 111 more than the previous week and 2.7% higher than the five-year average.
Deaths in hospitals and care homes were below the five-year average, while deaths in private homes remained above, with 749 more deaths than would typically be expected.
Across the UK, 10,861 deaths were registered – 179 deaths higher than the five-year average and 77 deaths higher than the previous week.
Of these, 234 mentioned coronavirus.
More than 58,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.
Figures published on Tuesday by the ONS show that 52,943 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to September 25, and had been registered by October 3.
Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,257 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to September 27, while 901 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to September 25 (and had been registered up to September 30), according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Together, these figures mean that so far 58,101 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday defended the Government’s controversial 10pm coronavirus curfew for pubs and restaurants, warning the alternative was for them to close altogether.
Ministers are under pressure from Tory MPs to scrap the curfew in England, as well as easing the so-called “rule of six”, amid claims such intrusive measures are not justified by the evidence and damage the economy.
The Government is braced for a potential backbench rebellion when the Commons comes to vote on Tuesday on continuing the rule of six which bans social gatherings of more than six people.
With a further vote is expected on Wednesday on the 10pm curfew, rebels are urging ministers to make concessions.
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