Hospital patients with Covid reaches record high for fourth day

Figures show there were 2322 patients in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19.

Number of hospital patients with Covid reaches record high for fourth consecutive day iStock

The number of patients in hospital with Covid has reached a record high for a fourth consecutive day, with the health secretary warning the total could continue to rise for the next few weeks.

Figures released by the Scottish Government on Thursday revealed there were 2322 patients in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 65 on the previous day. 

Meanwhile the number of patients in intensive care rose by one to 26. 

Humza Yousaf came under fire from opposition politicians at Holyrood after he told MSPs that modelling showed the rise in patient numbers could continue “over the next couple or few weeks”.

The dominance of the highly transmissible Omicron BA2 subvariant is the reason for the rising number of infections and hospital numbers and the “unprecedent pressure” this brings, Yousaf said.

He added that he numberof Covid patients in Scotland had more than doubled since February.

It comes as a further 50 coronavirus-linked deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, up 11 from Wednesday.

This takes the number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 to 11,246.

Meanwhile a further 13,564 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Scotland, up 1143 from the previous day.

Speaking about rising patient levels, the health secretary said: “Using the latest published Covid-19 modelling, we anticipate this may well continue to increase over the next couple or few weeks.”

He told MSPs: “The increase in cases and hospitalisation is largely due to the dominance of the more transmissible Omicron BA2 variant, which accounts for about 90% of all reported cases.”

Yousaf also reported that, in the seven days up to March 22, an average of 6000 NHS staff – about 3.4% of the NHS workforce – were absent each day “for a range of reasons related to Covid-19”.

The level of staff absence “puts incredible strain on the delivery of health services”, he said.

Yousaf said there are reports that some planned surgeries, which had already been delayed because of the pandemic, “are having to be postponed again to deal with that increase in pressure our health boards are facing at this time”.

He went on to tell MSPs: “I have been upfront and honest about the scale of the challenge in terms of our NHS recovery, it will take time.

“The recovery will not be a matter of weeks or months, it will take years.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said Yousaf’s statement to MSPs had been a “list of excuses”.

He told the health secretary: “This is not all due to Covid. Your lack of credible workforce planning and a flimsy Covid recovery plan has led us to this.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, was also critical, saying while the NHS had worked “tirelessly” throughout the pandemic they were “being let down by this Government”.

Baillie suggested: “Perhaps the NHS would have been more resilient if the cabinet secretary’s predecessors hadn’t cut beds, had fixed the workforce crisis and had sorted social care.

“These problems are not new, they predate the pandemic.”

She continued her attack, saying Yousaf was “playing fast and loose with the lives of Scots” as she demanded: “We need more than sticking plaster solutions and more excuses.”

The health secretary responded by stating the impact the pandemic had had on the NHS.

“We have the highest number of people in hospital with Covid,” he said.

“We have the highest level of community transmission because of Covid. We have high levels of workforce absence because people are testing positive for Covid.

“We can’t just magic away the pandemic, as much as I would like to.”

Yousaf insisted: “If we can keep Covid under control, that would be the best tool to aid our recovery.”

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