Shropshire Community Health Trust Deputy Nursing and Quality Director Samantha Young said daily updates were being given about the situation at Whitchurch Community Hospital, and the trust’s infection control team was liaising with NHS England about guidance and policy.
She added that this was one of two coronavirus outbreaks currently ongoing on trust sites, and the other one – at Ludlow Community Hospital – was “coming to an end” with a patient nearing the end of isolation.
Chief Executive Patricia Davies said the outbreaks had been well-managed, and no staff were infected.
She noted that transmission rates in the county were higher than other parts of the West Midlands, with tourism and returning students among the suspected reasons.
In her regular written update to the trust board, Ms Davies said infection rates in the week ending on September 22 stood at 319.3 cases per 100,000 people in Shropshire and 373.4 in Telford and Wrekin, both higher than the West Midlands and English averages of 304.5 and 258 respectively. All four of those figures have since risen.
She said the county’s high rates were “originally thought to be down to tourism and the fact that Shropshire is a nice place to come and visit during the summer months, but it has also been driven, I think, by students coming back to universities and also children coming back to schools”.
She said this “luckily” was not translating into high levels of admission to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or Princess Royal Hospital, which between them had 40 patients – none of whom were in intensive care – primarily admitted due to Covid-19.
Ms Davies’s report said: “There have been recent outbreaks of Covid at two of our community hospitals, affecting eight and two patients respectively.”
Addressing the meeting, which took place a week after her report was published, Ms Davies said one of the outbreaks was “stood down” in the week of September 27 to October 1 “but I understand there has been a further outbreak within that community hospital”.
Ms Young said: “In Whitchurch, work is ongoing with daily updates. The IPC [infection prevention and control] teams are liaising quite closely with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and the system because they understand the pressures that are on them.
“We are also linking with NHSE’s deputy director of infection prevention and control to ensure we are still following guidance and policy.”
She added that the Ludlow outbreak was “coming to an end; we’ve got a couple of days to wait until we’re clear from our 14-day isolation period for a patient who was Covid-positive”.
Public Health England defines an “outbreak” as an occasion when two or more confirmed or suspected cases can be associated with a specific location.