We’ve been flagging up the number of ‘Covid’ patients admitted to a hospital for a different reason on this site for over a year, but even I was shocked by this analysis by MailOnline‘s Senior Health Reporter which found that 65% of new Covid patients were admitted to hospital for something other than Covid and only tested positive after they’d been admitted.
In the two weeks to December 21, hospitals in England recorded 563 new coronavirus inpatients – the majority of which are believed to be Omicron now that the variant is the country’s dominant stain.
But just 197 (35%) were being primarily treated for Covid, with the remaining 366 (65%) only testing positive after being admitted for something else.
Experts told MailOnline it was important to distinguish between admissions primarily for Covid so that rising numbers do not spook ministers into more social restrictions or scare the public from going to hospital.
England’s incidental hospital cases are being driven by London, which has become the U..K.’s Omicron hotspot and where admissions have been rising sharply.
Just over four in 10 new Omicron hospital patients in London were admitted for a different ailment, MailOnline’s analysis suggests.
There were 523 more ‘Covid admissions’ resulting in an overnight stay in the two weeks to December 21st, after Omicron became dominant in the capital earlier this month.
Admission rates for Covid in the capital are one factor ministers are keeping an eye on before potentially pulling the trigger on more curbs because London is considered to be a few weeks ahead of the rest of the country in its Omicron outbreak.
Officials are reported to be considering a national two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown after Christmas if London’s daily admissions breach 400 this week — which would signal ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS.
The latest data show this figure is currently just shy of this threshold, at 301 patients on Monday.
The rising number of so-called ‘incidental cases’ – people who are only diagnosed with the virus after going to the NHS for a different ailment – is in line with the picture in South Africa.
Studies in the epicentre Gauteng province have shown up to three-quarters of Omicron patients there were not admitted primarily for the virus.
Worth reading in full.