DORSET hospitals have experienced a ‘spike’ in coronavirus admissions, as the NHS faces mounting pressure as a result of the pandemic.

More than 200 people were admitted to Dorset hospitals with coronavirus in the space of a week, latest figures revealed.

Data released by NHS England shows, between December 28 and January 3, 204 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the county. As of January 5, the University Hospitals Dorset Trust had 205 coronavirus patients, 16 of which required mechanical ventilation.

The Dorset County Hospital had 35 patients, four on mechanical ventilation, and the Dorset Healthcare Trust had 32 patients, none on mechanical ventilation. Compared to a week before, 135 people were occupying hospital beds with Covid-19 in the county.

Between December 21 and December 27, 75 people were admitted to hospital with the virus, 21 on Boxing Day.

Speaking at Public Health Dorset’s Q&A, Dr Alyson O’Donnell, chief medical officer at UHD, said: “The doubling of cases since New Year’s Eve is absolutely what we’re seeing in hospitals, we’ve had a doubling in the number of admissions who are Covid positive in that period of time and we are not sure at the moment that we have seen the full affect yet of Christmas Day mixing. We have also seen a rise in the number of people in our intensive care units, that has doubled since just before Christmas.

“I think one of the things that I think it’s really important for people to hear the message about at the moment is that we are seeing people coming in who are younger and sicker than they were first time around and I think that has been a surprise.

“There was quite a lot of coverage of paediatric wards, we are not in a situation where we have many children with Covid but we are seeing children being admitted with Covid that we didn’t see in the first wave, so this is feeling like a very different position than going back to March or April. We are prepared, we are doing everything we possibly can do to be prepared. We are all working our socks off to make sure that we are ready, and we are absolutely prepared for the fact that the numbers we are seeing are not where this is going to top out, we are expecting to see significantly more patients over the next couple of weeks.”

And Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wrote an open letter to the county’s residents, urging them to stay home to help protect the NHS. The letter, which was signed by some of the county’s health bosses, said by staying home, transmission is reduced and the most vulnerable will be better protected.

It said: “We need your continued help, now. The new Covid-19 variant is spreading fast. We all need to play our part to stop the spread. The single most important actions we can all take now are to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We are urging all Dorset residents to play their part and please stay at home.

“The health and care system in Dorset has been working extremely hard to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme to local people. We are delivering the vaccine in line with the national guidance which means those people who are most at risk will be invited first. While the roll-out of the vaccine in Dorset is great news we must make sure all other measures are still being followed such as regularly washing hands, wearing face coverings and keeping a safe distance from people not in our household.”