November 10, 2021 10.51 am

“50-50 chance for COVID restrictions this winter,” warns health director

‘Unprecedented’ winter surge on hospitals

By Local Democracy Reporter

Unprecedented demand’ for hospitals means that there is a 50-50 chance whether northern Lincolnshire faces more COVID restrictions this winter.

North East Lincolnshire’s public health boss says that the government will likely look at new measures if the situation gets much worse.

Geoff Barnes, the director of public health, has urged everyone eligible to get the COVID and flu vaccines to reduce the amount of sick people needing hospital beds.

He said the next few weeks are critical in preparing the region for winter.

The government has warned that it could introduce a raft of new restrictions under Plan B if it needs to protect the NHS.

This includes making face masks mandatory, introducing COVID passports and advising people to work from home, although the rules wouldn’t amount to another lockdown.

Hospitals in our area are already under huge pressure as we head into winter, and there’s a real risk of a big surge in patients over the next four months,” Mr Barnes said.

The demand is likely to be enormous and unprecedented.

It is critical that people do everything they can do in order to avoid that scenario.

Last year, most of the patients had coronavirus, but this year we could also see people suffering from flu, RSV or other long-term problems which have worsened over the pandemic.

At this stage, more government restrictions are quite possible – perhaps a 50 – 50 chance.

We are only just into November, and most hospitals are already facing enormous burdens. If it gets much worse, the government will likely look at Plan B in our area.”

24 beds in Grimsby hospital are currently occupied by patients with coronavirus.

Across the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust area, 77 COVID patients are receiving treatment in hospital. Trust bosses say almost all beds are full. 

Mr Barnes said that the single most important thing people could do before winter was to get the coronavirus jab, even if they have never had one before.

It’s never too late to get your first or second COVID vaccine,” he said.

There is growing evidence that the effects may wane over time, so anyone who is clinically vulnerable or over 50 should also have a booster jab six months later.

We are starting to see a concerning rise of COVID rates in elderly people, who are likely socialising more than last year, so it is very important that they get a booster.

The vaccines have made a massive impact in our fight against COVID. Without them, North East Lincolnshire’s case rates since the summer would have led to hundreds of extra deaths.

I would also urge anyone eligible to get vaccinated against flu. It was at historically low levels last year due to lockdown, but we are likely to see an upsurge in December and January, when we usually get epidemics.

Anything that can be done before then to reduce the risk is absolutely vital.”

Public health officials are also keen for teenagers – who have made up the majority of cases for the past few months – to come forward for jabs.

Currently, a third of 12 to 15 year olds have been vaccinated, and 60% of 16 to 17-year-olds.

The figures don’t look fantastic, but it would really make a difference if more could get vaccinated before the end of November,” Mr Barnes said.

COVID was running rampant in schools before half-term, so many teenagers were off when we ran clinics there.

It was reassuring to see queues out of the door at the Open Door clinic recently.

The half-term holiday seems to have provided a gap which has brought cases in schools down.

“Together with the number of infections, hopefully we won’t see another upsurge in teenagers.”

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.