Coronavirus outbreak in Weston hospital has not spread to community

Weston Hospital closed to new patients after a surge in coronavirus infections.

Weston Hospital closed to new patients after a surge in coronavirus infections. - Credit: Archant

The coronavirus outbreak at Weston General Hospital has not spread into the wider community, according to results from tests and contact tracing.

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed there is no evidence of an increased risk to people in North Somerset, following a spike in cases at the hospital which saw it close to new patients on May 25.

Debbie Stark, deputy regional director for PHE South West, said: “Our initial review has concluded that the recent spike in cases seen in North Somerset is associated with the increases reported by the hospital. Cases in care homes and the wider community appear to be in line with other areas.”

The number of cases and the rate of cases per 100,000 people has risen in North Somerset over the past few weeks.

It currently stands at 461 cases in North Somerset or a rate of 215.5 cases per 100,000 people – higher than the regional rate, but below the national average.

Matt Lenny, director of public health for North Somerset Council, said: “The review of local cases by PHE has provided welcome reassurance that there are reasonable explanations for the recent rise in North Somerset coronavirus cases.

“We believe we are not seeing widespread transmission of the virus beyond what is typical for other local authorities in our area. Even with the additional cases found over recent weeks, the concentration of cases in our community is still in line with other areas in the South West.

“However, there is no room for complacency as this report describes a moment in time in the pattern of infection and we will remain vigilant in watching how the virus progresses.”

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A high number of hospital patients and six per cent of asymptomatic staff tested postive for Covid-19.

All inpatients and staff at the hospital are being regularly tested, and there is also improved access to local testing for the wider community at Bristol Airport and Locking Road car park in Weston.

Cllr Mike Bell, deputy leader of the council and lead member for health, said: “I am pleased with the prompt action taken by the hospital to control the situation. It has taken time to review the overall pattern of cases but this analysis provides us with some confidence that we can continue to follow the national advice about a cautious unlocking of local facilities and services without the need for any additional local ‘lockdown’ measures.

“We know this virus will be with us for some time and the pandemic remains a very real threat for us all. We have experienced low case numbers in the South West region until now, however there is still a risk of infection rates escalating. Therefore I am asking everyone to consider their actions carefully and think about their responsibility to protect themselves, family, friends and members of their community, particularly our most vulnerable.

“If everyone acts as if they have the virus and assumes that those we come into contact in any setting could also be infected then that will make sure we limit the spread. This is not the time to relax and feel that the threat of harm has gone away.”