Some areas of Bristol have Covid infection rates higher than many parts of London – and the virus is spreading rapidly across the city, recent figures show.
After yet another day in which more than 1,000 new cases of the virus were registered, Bristol Live can reveal that some of the areas with the highest number of cases were as high as London even before Christmas.
NHS executives have earmarked Bristol to create a ‘surge hub’ covid hospital expansion in Southmead, in case the massive increase in infections translates into a sudden increase in people needing hospital treatment for the virus.
READ MORE: Bristol’s covid ‘surge hub’ will be temporary new building on the grounds of Southmead Hospital
The distribution of covid cases by area in Bristol reveals that it is North Bristol where the virus is currently being transmitted most rapidly.
The most accurate picture of ‘case rates’ – the average number of new cases over a period of seven days – covers the week leading up to Christmas up to an inclusive Christmas Eve.
The figures show that in Horfield, the case frequency increased sharply to unprecedented 2,183 cases per year. 100,000 people. There were 68 percent more cases in the week before Christmas in Horfield than the week before, with cases jumping from 97 to 163 in seven days.
There are currently 15 areas in Bristol where the case frequency exceeds the 1,600 mark, which ranks in the ‘black zone’ of the highest number in the country.
After Horfield, neighboring Bishopston has a case rate of 2,087, Redland and St. Andrew’s has a case rate of 2,040 and Southville is the second area with a case rate of over 2,000.
At current speeds, most of Bristol will soon be in the ‘black zone’, with case rates matching the kind of explosion in the Omicron variant that has seen London declare a state of emergency.
The place with the fastest growing number of cases is Whitchurch Park in South Bristol, where the number of infected in the week before Christmas increased by 168 percent in just seven days. On the other side of town, in Stoke Gifford, cases rose by 166 per cent at the same time, and in Withywood cases rose by 162 per cent during the seven days to December 24th.
Only one place in Bristol saw the number of cases actually lower in the week before Christmas than in the week leading up to December 17 – Westbury at Trym, where the total number of new cases last week was 57, five falls compared to the week before.
There are three key issues for public health chiefs and hospital chiefs now, with the Omicron variant out of control and no sign of any restrictions to combat the spread.
The first is how much higher the number of people who become infected with the virus will go. Some areas of London have seen case rates in the range of 3,000 plus, with an estimate that one in every 15 or 20 people in certain areas is infected.
The second question is whether Bristol’s comparative success in terms of vaccine rollout has an impact on how sick people become of the new Omicron variant, compared to London. More than 70 per cent of those over 55 in Bristol have had all three covid jabs, including their booster shots, while in London it is only around 30 per cent.
And the third question that NHS executives in Bristol are looking at closely is to what extent the rapidly rising rates of infection will translate into hospitalizations.
The number of people at Bristol’s two hospitals has remained fairly stable over the autumn and winter, at around one-fifth of the level in early 2021, before the mass vaccination program.
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