‘Cause for optimism’ on Covid but NHS ‘not out of woods yet’

Recent data shows the rate of infections is slowing down.

‘Cause for optimism’ on Covid but NHS ‘not out of woods yet’ iStock

The recent decline in new coronavirus cases is “cause for optimism” but the NHS is “not out of the woods yet”, a health expert has said.

Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said she was encouraged by data in recent days showing a slowing-down of infections.

However the health board is expected to come under pressure over the next two weeks.

Ms Evans spoke to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Saturday.

Asked about the situation in her health board area, she said: “What a difference a week has made for us.

“Certainly, a slowing down of those infection rates that we saw in just in the run-up to Christmas and at the start of New Year.”

Ms Evans said the effect of the Omicron wave would still be felt in hospitals around Scotland.

She said: “The baked-in cases that we’ve got, we expect to see for the next week, two weeks.

“So that means that we’re still under pressure in health and social care systems, but it gives us some cause for optimism.

“Particularly when you start to look at the effects elsewhere in Scotland and the UK and in other parts of the world where the Omicron wave happened sooner, we’re starting to see a slowdown or even a plateauing of hospitalisations.

“So that’s positive news, but we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said on Friday that the Omicron wave appeared to be “decelerating” but more data was needed to be definitive.

On Thursday, the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus figures included both PCR and lateral flow test numbers for the first time.

This was due to a change in the rules where a positive lateral flow result no longer needed a PCR confirmation.

Ms Evans also expressed some concern over whether everyone would report their lateral flow tests.

She told Good Morning Scotland: “We call it losing sight of the case burden. That’s a real worry.”

She added: “I think we all benefit from registering those results and my plea would be do that, absolutely do that.

“Particularly with the dominance of lateral flow testing now.”

Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh and chief social policy adviser to the Scottish Government, also said Omicron cases appear to be “stabilising”.

She told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “The cases, if we look at them, are going down by over 20%.

“In fact, yesterday I think was the last day, the first day for a while we’ve had less than 100,000 cases so things seem to moving in the right direction.”

However, she added that the number of patients in hospitals was still “very high”.

On Saturday, Scotland recorded 21 new coronavirus-linked deaths and 7833 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Of the new cases, 4469 were identified through PCR tests.

Since Thursday, figures published by the Scottish Government include cases identified using either a first lateral flow device or PCR positive test.

It means the death toll under the daily measurement, of people who tested positive for the virus in the past 28 days, has risen to 10,059.

There were 1540 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, of which 46 were in intensive care.

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