Covid spike leads to Cornwall’s main hospital halting visitors

The main NHS hospital in Cornwall has been forced to suspend almost all visiting after a “significant” spike in the number of patients with Covid.

Steven Morris 

Eighty-five patients at the Royal Cornwall hospital in Truro have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning that many wards and bays are unable to take in new admissions.

According to the latest figures published by Cornwall council, the seven-day case rate for Cornwall is 376 per 100,000 people, compared with 313 for England as a whole.

A spokesperson for Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Over the last few days there has been a significant increase in the number of people in hospital who are Covid-positive.

“Although the vast majority of the 85 people have been admitted for another reason, it means we have many wards or bays unable to take new admissions.”

The spokesperson said the hospital would consider visits in “exceptional circumstances”, such as to say goodbye to a patient who is dying. The current visiting arrangements for maternity, neonatal and paediatrics remain unchanged.

“We will be making every effort to resume visiting as soon as we can, but we must reduce the number of people coming into our hospitals to a minimum, and it is likely we will have to keep this restriction in place for at least the next seven days,” the spokesperson added.

The trust’s deputy medical director, Dr Gill Derrick, said: “Although all patients are tested on admission, we are finding many have been unknowingly carrying the virus.

“When a Covid test later in their admission proves positive, it means we must close a bay, or in some cases a whole ward, for at least 10 days. This has a big knock-on impact for patients waiting for admission and ultimately ambulances waiting to hand over their patients. All of our health and care services continue to be under significant pressure.”

Dr Ruth Goldstein, of Cornwall’s public health team, said Covid was still causing “havoc” with many people’s lives. “Everybody seems to know somebody who has got Covid. It absolutely hasn’t gone away,” she said.

Andrew George, a Lib Dem councillor who speaks for the party on health issues in Cornwall, said: “The Conservative government sets the tone and climate as well as the rules. The prime minister follows public opinion rather than science, chases headlines and has no respect for his own rules.

“Ministers and portfolio holders must stand aside and let public health officials set standards for social distancing, mask wearing and personal hygiene. Because it’s evident the public have lost respect for those who set the rules.”