SOME light, perhaps, in the Covid-19 crisis.

The 'R' number, the rate of reproduction, has again fallen slightly in the south-east region over the last week, meaning fewer people are being infected.

Announced today the number has dropped slightly to between 1.2 and 1.4 meaning that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 14 other people. The growth rate in the south east region is now between +3% and +6%, meaning the number of new infections is growing by up to 6% every day.

For the second day there were no deaths reported in the Winchester district, and none in Hampshire, although Portsmouth hospital had one and Southampton hospital two.

Although the R number is coming down it will take time to filter through and the number of cases are still rising steadily. County cases climbed from 10,008 to 10,256 today, an increase of 248, the seventh day in a row it has exceeded 200.

In the Winchester district there have been 29 new cases today, the highest increase since Saturday October 24, bringing the number since the start of the pandemic to 1,041, an infection rate of 833.7 per 100,000 people since March. See graph below:

Hampshire Chronicle:

The latest number for Covid patients at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester is 47 on Wednesday, up from 33 last Thursday. Wards being used for Covid patients and those thought to have it, are Wykeham and Victoria, Clarke and Clifton.

Managers have told staff that there is no shortage of PPE as stocks had been boosted in expectation of the second surge.

The hospital has been on red alert status following a spike in cases involving staff in mid-October. North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke is on amber alert and Andover War Memorial is on green.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) has launched a campaign to boost the public health message. COVID Zero aims to reduce transmissions within hospitals to nil.

Lara Alloway, chief medical officer, said:“By taking three simple actions – that cost nothing – every single one of us can help to stop the spread of Coronavirus and protect ourselves and our loved ones.” said Lara.

HHFT is urging the local community and trust staff members to continue to WALK, WEAR & WASH:

WALK – follow guidance by walking apart and social distancing

WEAR – wear a mask or face covering when you’re not able to safely socially distance

WASH – wash your hands as often as possible

Face masks have been made available at the entrances to all HHFT sites and hand sanitisers are at regular intervals throughout – though washing your hands with soap and warm water remains the best thing to do.

Hampshire Chronicle:

In the last seven days up to today there have been 178 cases reported in Winchester district (up 14 on yesterday), compared to 124 for the previous seven days (up six).

The Government website lags behind, reporting 157 cases in the seven days to October 25, a rate of 125.7 per 100,000 people, down on the previous day (160/ 128.1).

According to the Press Association news agency, eight towns in Hampshire currently have weekly infection rates of more than 100 per 100,000 people in the week to October 25 - Portsmouth (181.5, and rising); Eastleigh (142.2, rising), Rushmoor (134.3, falling), Winchester (124.9, falling), Southampton (129.1, rising), Fareham (104.1, falling) and New Forest (107.7, rising). Joining them is Test Valley (103.8). It was unclear why the Winchester rates slightly differ when they are supposed to both be up to October 25.

‘Winchester district’ comprises more than just the city and is the city council area which stretches from Micheldever in the north to Southwick in the south, from Sparsholt in the west to Bramdean in the east.

The number of deaths in Hampshire hospitals, reported by the NHS, is now 641, up three today. The figure for fatalities at the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which includes the RHCH, is 167, same. For the other local trusts: Portsmouth, 241; Solent, 2; Southern Health, 17; Southampton, 214 (up two). Only deaths that occur in hospitals where the patient has tested positive for Covid-19 are recorded, with deaths in the community excluded, such as those in care homes.

Daily death counts are revised each day, with each case backdated to the actual date of death. This means some of the deaths that were first recorded in the latest period may actually have taken place days earlier. This sometimes creates slightly different figures between the NHS and the Government figures.

Across the south-east region, which includes Hampshire, there were 534 patients in hospital yesterday, up 13 on Wednesday. Regarding Covid patients admitted to hospital, the latest available figure is 84 reported on Tuesday, down two on Monday, in the south-east region, which includes Hampshire. The numbers are not broken down for the hospitals in Hampshire. There are 27 people on ventilators, up two on Wednesday.

The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic of people who had had a positive test result for Covid-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test, is: Hampshire, 747, same (54.0 per 100,000 people since start of pandemic), Portsmouth, 80, up one, (37.2) and Southampton, 129, same, (50.7). The Winchester district figure, the city council area, is 82, a rate of 65.7, higher than the other three areas mentioned. But all the Hampshire figures are below the national average.

A round-up of the Covid-19 news this week:

A new testing centre opens in Winchester on the Worthy Lane car park

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Any change to status of Hampshire over coronavirus would apply to the whole county council area, and not individual areas, senior officials say.

Read more here