Why Peterborough was given Enhanced Response Area status - as 15 die in a month in city and hospitalisations could double before Christmas

The number of patients in hospital with COVID in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire could double within six weeks unless urgent action is taken, according to the city’s director of public health.

By Stephen Briggs
Monday, 1st November 2021, 9:48 am

The latest case rate in Peterborough is currently 525.1 cases per 100,000 people (as of October 26) - down dramatically from the pandemic high of 707.7 on October 13.

However, while falling, it is still well above the UK rate of 435.3.

The city’s vaccination rate also remains far below the UK Rate. In Peterborough, just 66.1 per cent have had one dose, and 60.2 per cent have had two doses. Across the UK as a whole, 86.9 per cent have had one dose, and 79.5 per cent have had two doses.

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Across hospitals in the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (Peterborough City, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford & Rutland) there are currently 85 COVID patients in hospital (as of October 26).

On October 25 there were 88 patients - the highest number since March 12 this year.

There are also 10 patients on mechanically ventilated beds - - down from 13 on October 22, which was the highest number since March 14.

Up to October 15 there were 15 COVID deaths (within 28 days of a positive test) in Peterborough in October. In September and August there were 12 such deaths, while in July there were two. On October 27 there were three deaths in one day - the worst single day death toll since February.

On October 18 there were 259 cases recorded in Peterborough - the highest number of cases recorded in a single day in the entire pandemic. Eight of the top 10 highest numbers occurred in October.

The director, Jyoti Atri said the decision to give Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Enhanced Response Area Status, was needed as cases and pressure on health services continue to rocket.

Jyoti said; “I am delighted to announce that Peterborough and Cambridgeshire have been successful in being granted Enhanced Area Response Status from the Government.

“That is in recognition of the fact there are additional requirements in Peterborough and Cambridgershire with regards to Covid as a result of a number of different situations.

“We have had higher rates across the patch over the past few months. I’m concerned about the rapid increase in the over 60s, as well as the consequences for the health service which is under immense pressure because of direct COVID admissions but also the pressures they are under to recoup the underactivity of the past 18 months

“Now because community transmission rates are high it is now impacting on our workforce capacity with staff having to stay at home with children or to isolate because they have COVID themselves.

“We still have lower vaccination coverage than the England average.

“Being granted ERA status gives us additional levers and resources to really maximise our ability to control infection rates and to protect our vulnerable population with the vaccine.

“That will mean that we will receive enhanced communications from the national team to really drive home the message across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire that rates are high.

“We can use the status to push for additional resource to speed up vaccination both in schools, and for the booster campaign with priority given to those who are most vulnerable.

“It will also mean we will have additional measures in schools to protect our school population, to keep children in school as far as possible. That will include wearing of face covering in communal areas and reduced on site visits.

“There will also enhanced testing, particularly for those with household positive contacts.

“I am really optimistic about being granted this status, and am hopeful it will control the spread of infection, protect those who are most vulnerable and our NHS and other vital services.”

Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee, thanked and congratulate Jyoti and her team for securing the status.

He said: “In national terms the COVID pandemic has reached a stage where it is very challenging for us in Cambridgeshire and requires additional urgent action.”

He said half of all cases in the county were amongst those aged 0-17, and that more than 1 in 8 children were off school in Cambridgeshire because of spread of COVID among children, families and teachers.

He described the health service in the county being under a ‘deep strain, and said; “The modelling behind application show that in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough we could have twice the number of COVID 19 patients in hospital than currently is the case in the next six weeks.

“We remain having a deep concern that vaccination rates locally are well below national average despite superb efforts of communications teams of councils and our partners.

“This new status will enable us to drive up vaccine uptake, take extra actions in schools to improve capacity on test and tracing and to raise awareness to try and restore those COVID safe behaviours among the population.”

To find out how to get vaccinated, visit https://www.thevaccinators.co.uk/