Things we learnt from Lancashire Covid press conference as Omicron spread revealed
Lancashire leaders have warned that the county is around ‘a week behind London’ as fears grow over Omicron spread.
The county’s health bosses, including Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, for Lancashire County Council, Professor Dominic Harrison for Blackburn with Darwen Council and Dr Arif Rajpura for Blackpool Council, have today addressed residents over rising cases.
Here are the key points from the meeting which affect Lancashire directly.
The true number of Omicron cases in Lancashire
Dr Karunanithi has revealed that there are currently around 2,580 Omicron cases across the county.
This figure is for the Lancashire County Council authority alone and does not include Blackburn with Darwen or Blackpool.
Prof Harrison said that around 50 per cent of the cases in Blackburn with Darwen are now Omicron – with this percentage expected to rise in the coming weeks. He said that the current rate for Blackburn with Darwen is at 417 cases per 100,000, which is below the national average of around 559.
No exact figure for Omicron cases in Blackburn with Darwen or Blackpool has yet been shared.
We are a week behind London
According to the most recent data, provided to the directors of public health for Lancashire, Blackburn and Blackpool, the county is now around a week to 10 days behind the Covid rates being seen in London.
Darwen Town, which has recorded more than 1,000 Covid cases per 100,000 people, is – according to Prof Harrison – in a very similar situation to London already.
Over the weekend, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, declared a ‘major incident’ to help hard-hit hospitals in the capital which are seein rising patient numbers and increasing staff absences.
Staff sickness or isolation is now at a rate of ‘around 10 per cent’ in London, a figure public health directors in Lancashire do not want to see echoed in the county.
Hospitalisations are stable
For the time being, according to Dr Karunanithi, hospitals in Lancashire are not seeing a marked increase in Covid patients.
However, he said that it is ‘still too early’ to tell if the Omicron variant will have a significant impact on the number of patients attending hospital.
Dr Karunanithi said that a lot of cases from around December 12 onwards, will not been seen in hospitals for around another week and that we can ‘expect’ to see that impact just after Christmas.
Cases will top 8,000 a day
Dr Sakthi said that it is reasonable to believe that there will be 8,000 Omicron cases in Lancashire by Christmas Day.
He said that the current rate of Omicron cases is doubling every two to three days, and that it is expected that this will continue without any intervention.
“If we really want to be with our family, we must be taking the steps not to become a positive case,” he said.
He is urging people to take a test on Christmas Day or on any day of a planned gathering to help slow the spread of the disease.
Vaccination capacity has doubled
There is ‘double the capacity’ for vaccination in Lancashire now, according to Dr Karunanithi.
He said that NHS workers in the county have ramped up the capacity, but that they now need people to come forward to fill that capacity.
The Lancashire health chief revealed that hundreds of first doses are still being given and stressed that it is ‘not too late’ to get a first jab, second jab or a booster ahead of Christmas.
Dr Arif Rajpura, of Blackpool Council, echoed this message saying that there will be no one asking why someone has not been vaccinated yet.