By Rachael Grealish
Cumbria finished 2021 with its largest number of new COVID-19 cases ever, the latest ‘alarming’ figures show.
According to statistics released yesterday, Thursday January 6, by Cumbria County Council, there were 10,367 new cases reported in the last week of the year.
This figure is a staggering 5,701, 122 percent, increase from 4,666 new cases in the previous week.
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, called the rate of spread ‘alarming’ as he urged Cumbrians to get vaccinated.
He said: “The rate at which COVID is spreading in Cumbria and indeed the rest of the UK is truly alarming right now.
“Thankfully, it does appear this variant is milder than previous ones, but the focus now must be on protecting our NHS and care services.
“That’s why we must all remain incredibly cautious over the coming weeks and bring the case rates down. Continue to get tested regularly and self-isolate if you’re positive. Keep your distance from others wherever possible. Wash your hands regularly and wear face masks in busy public spaces.
“Also, please make sure you get your first, second or booster vaccines as soon as you possibly can. If you haven’t had your first or second vaccine yet, it’s not too late. You won’t be judged or asked why by anyone – but please book it now.”
It was the borough of Allerdale that had the greatest number of new cases, with 2,161 new cases, but it was Barrow-in-Furness that had the highest rate of new cases (2,936 new cases per 100k population) – followed by Copeland (2,920 new cases per 100k population).
The number of new cases increased in all districts, with Carlisle having the greatest percentage increase with a 174 percent increase.
Rates in all districts, except Eden, were above the national average rate (England 1,625 cases per 100k population) and Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness and Copeland were above the regional average rate (North West 2,089 new cases per 100k population).
Broken down by age groups, new cases increased from the previous week in all age groups – with the 30-39 age group had the greatest number of new cases in the county, with 2063 new cases among those ages.
Looking at the percentage increase of new cases there was significant rises in several age groups.
Cases increased by 350 percent in the 70-79 age group, 335 percent in the 80+ age group, and 285 percent in the 60-69 age group.
Although cases have surged due to the new Omicron variant deaths have remained low in the county, however there, unfortunately, was six further deaths by week ending Wednesday, January 5.
As for pressure on the NHS, the number of new patients admitted with COVID-19 Positive status in North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC) increased by 13 from the previous week and the average number
of patients with COVID-19 in beds in NCIC increased by 44 from the previous week.
The number of new patients admitted with COVID-19 Positive status in University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMB) increased by nine from the previous week and the average number of patients with COVID-19 in beds in UHMB increased by 31 from the previous week.
Dr Geoff Jolliffe, Clinical Chair at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Many GP practices across our region are currently facing unprecedented pressure due to significant staffing shortages.
“At this time, all our practices remain open and are contactable via the usual channels – however, we do ask that patients utilise the full range of services available in the community, such as pharmacies for minor ailments and illnesses.
“While the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our region, we are determined to keep as many planned care services running to catch up the COVID-19 backlog, so if someone has an appointment for an assessment or diagnostic procedure, or other treatment, it’s important they attend.
“Many patients are experiencing symptoms they would normally associate with common respiratory tract infections, such as headaches, sore throat, a runny nose, and coughs – these should be regarded as possible Covid and you must have a PCR test at the earliest opportunity. Please don’t ignore it then carry on as normal.
“If you do require a GP appointment, please note that staff are working under considerable pressure and remember to be patient and be kind.”
The government say the best defence against the new variant is getting the COVID-19 vaccination and booster.
Currently, 65.9 percent of Cumbrians are fully vaccinated and boosted.