Don’t turn away those who come early for Covid booster vaccination, doctors told amid surging cases

Infections in Scotland have reached another record high, with one in 11, nearly half a million people (473,800), estimated to have had Covid-19 last week. This is up from 376,300 people, or one in 14, the previous week.

Wales has also seen its third successive jump in infections, with the figure up from 125,400 people, or one in 25, to 192,900 people, or one in 16 – a record high.

In England, around one in 16 people are estimated to have had the virus in the most recent week – some 3.5 million people. The last time it was higher was at the peak of the omicron wave, in the week ending January 6, when 1 in 15 – 3.7 million – were infected.

Experts say the spread of the BA.2 strain of omicron, a relaxation of restrictions and waning immunity among some groups is to blame for the increase.

Hospital admissions among over-75s in England are now at their highest point since mid-January last year, The Times reported on Friday. Asked about the increasing rates, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said “rates of severe disease and death remain low”.

“The vaccinations remain our first line of defence which is why we’ve rolled out the booster campaign to all over-75s and care home residents,” they added.

Temporary units being deployed

In the south west, “tents” are being set up outside some hospitals for patients arriving by ambulance due to overcrowded A&Es. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said the use of such facilities is “borderline immoral” and “a danger to patient safety”, the Health Service Journal first reported.

NHS Kernow, Royal Cornwall Hospitals and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement that it had deployed a “Temporary Ambulance Handover Unit” at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals in Truro.

“The mobile unit is for patients with non-life-threatening conditions, who are still under the care of the ambulance service, and will enable ambulance crews to get back out on the road to care for other patients,” it said.

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