WINCHESTER hospital is currently treating over 40 patients who have tested positive for Covid-19, a sharp rise in numbers from previous weeks.

It comes after the latest regional figures, released yesterday (Thursday), show that more than 1,500 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the county.

Yesterday 42 patients were being cared for in two wards at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, with five of those in intensive care.

Chief executive of the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Alex Whitfield, said that 25 patients were also awaiting results who are being cared for in “Query Covid” wards.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Ms Whitfield said: “Going back a couple of weeks we were having small numbers, we were in the six, seven, eight’s and then it rose to around the 40 level three or four days ago and it has stayed around that level. We would expect that to go up again, that is what we are planning for and that’s what we are ready for.

“We are wondering whether the fact that it has stabilised a bit in the last few days is because some of the social distancing is starting to have a positive effect, it is probably too early to say and we certainly don’t want everyone going out over the Bank Holiday weekend.”

The trust is also caring for 95 people at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, split across five wards, with a number in intensive care. There are also 29 more patients that could potentially have Covid-19, but the Trust are waiting for test results to come back.

The county has a total of 1,562 patients, including 1,241 across the Hampshire County Council area, which excludes Southampton and Portsmouth.

Across the county 179 people have died from coronavirus, and 23 more deaths were announced yesterday (Thursday), with eight of these occurring at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who run Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester hospitals.