‘It feels like the pandemic is over’: Life inside James Cook Hospital ahead of covid rules update – Teesside Live

A top doctor working at a Teesside hospital has said ‘it feels like the pandemic is over’ ahead of the PM’s covid update on Monday.

Dr Richard Cree has been blogging about his experiences working at James Cook University Hospital during the pandemic and has been sharing the latest updates about the situation at the hospital, and the UK as a whole, online.

In his latest post, Dr Cree reflects on the upcoming Downing Street announcement which will see Boris Johnson outline the easing of England’s remaining covid restrictions.

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The doctor claims things have drastically changed in the last few months.

The post reads: “Parliament reconvenes on Monday after the half-term recess and the Prime Minister is expected to unveil his long-term strategy for ‘living with covid’ a month earlier than planned. It is expected that he will announce his intention to remove all remaining covid restrictions, including the legal requirement to isolate after a positive test.

“It would be fair to say that this would be a somewhat controversial decision. It has been described as ‘bonkers’ and ‘a profound mistake’ by some experts who believe it will inevitably result in further spread of the virus. Many fear that the PM is responding to the intense political pressure that he is currently under, rather than ‘following the science.’

“But is Boris’ decision really a crazy one? When the Prime Minister talks of ‘living with covid’, he is, of course, really now talking about living with Omicron. Things have changed and we are in a very different place from where we were just a few months ago. Back then, we were talking about learning to live with a virus that was a serious threat if you were in an at-risk group and/or were unvaccinated. Now though, it’s obvious that the virus is far less dangerous.”

Dr Cree said despite a high community infection rate, intensive care units nowadays look similar to what they did did back in 2019 before the pandemic began.

He also said that very few patients are being admitted to intensive care.

The blog reads: “Very few covid patients are being admitted to intensive care anymore. Most of those that are have been admitted with other conditions and have tested positive upon arrival in hospital.

“A few have bacterial pneumonias which may well be secondary to a covid infection but no-one is developing covid pneumonitis like they did before.

“From our perspective, it feels like the pandemic is over.”

Despite this, the doctor says there are still people who remain vulnerable and are at risk of serious disease.

He adds: “Of course, there are still people who remain vulnerable and are at risk of serious disease. The very elderly and those with significant underlying health conditions will clearly be concerned about plans to abolish all measures to suppress Covid-19, especially at a time when there are still a large number of infections in the community. However, despite high case numbers, hospital admissions and deaths are continuing to fall. Indeed, fewer people overall are dying this winter than we would normally expect to.”

The doctor however expressed concerns after speculation the Chancellor is keen to put an end to free lateral flow and PCR tests for the public.

He said: “T he testing programme costs an eye-watering £15 billion a year so it’s easy to understand the desire to trim costs. Free testing would of course, continue for the clinically vulnerable but the rest of us would have to pay for a covid test. This does seem rather premature. After all, it’s hard to see how you can advise people to avoid spreading covid whilst making it difficult and/or costly to obtain a test.

“Regardless of what measures are announced on Monday, I doubt very much that the testing and isolation rules will change at the hospital anytime soon. Hospitals have a duty to protect their patients and testing will remain in place for both staff and patients. Staff who do test positive for covid will continue to be instructed to isolate from their workplace.”

Dr Cree, who has given permission to Teesside Live to share his blog, said there are 108 cases of the virus across the South Tees Hospitals Trust.

He also confirmed there are three covid patients in James Cook Critical Care unit.

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