AFTER weeks of rising numbers Covid is finally starting to fall in the Winchester district.

In figures released last night Covid has dropped across the district for the third day running.

There are 47 Covid patients in local hospitals, up from 39 on Christmas Eve and 46 on December 16.

Concerns nationally about NHS staffing are not being seen locally - with staff sickness on December 23 in the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at six per cent compared to 5.5 per cent in the previous week.

Alex Whitfield, trust chief executive, said: “We are seeing increases in staff absence, both as a result of a positive Covid test and as a result of self-isolating as a result of being in close contact with a Covid positive person.  We are fortunate that our staff sickness has not yet risen to the levels seen elsewhere but it is something we are monitoring closely. We benefit from our advanced regime of twice weekly staff testing, a successful vaccination programme, our inhouse track and trace team and an extensive staff wellbeing offer.

“As cases in the community continue to climb rapidly it is more important than ever for everyone to get vaccinated. To assist we are running walk in clinics at our Basingstoke hospital vaccination hub every day this week (from Sunday 2nd to Friday 7th) from 10am to 4pm.”

Winchester has not had a walk-in clinic for jabs, sparking criticism, but health bosses have arranged  for Badger Farm Community Centre to have two walk in clinics - Tuesday January 4 and Wednesday January 5, 1-5.30pm.

Two deaths have been reported in the district over Christmas bringing the death toll to 186 since March 2020.

Omicron, although more contagious, appears to be less serious, but most patients are relatively young and the hospitals are yet to see older people with the new variant.

Covid is now dropping in most parts of the districts, especially in Winchester city, although the numbers are still at high levels. In figures released last night the numbers are now rising in only five areas and dropping in nine.

Cases are still rising mainly in the Southern Parishes of Colden Common and Twyford, Bishop's Waltham and Waltham Chase, Wickham Knowle and Whiteley, Swanmore Hambledon and West Meon, and Denmead and Southwick.

In the seven days to December 28 there were 1,522 cases, down 130, or eight per cent, for a rolling number per 100,000 people of 1,208. This compares to the week to December 22, when 1,638 cases were reported, a rise of 392, or 30 per cent, on the previous seven days for a number per 100,000 of 1,300.

The breakdown of the Covid cases in the 14 areas of Winchester in the seven days to Tuesday December 28, the most recent day for which localised figures are available, is:

First: Springvale and Itchen Abbas with 117 cases, down one (1 per cent) with 1,704 per 100,000;

Second is Bishop's Waltham and Waltham Chase, 134 cases, up 35 (35 per cent), 1,367;

Third: Denmead and Southwick, 141 cases, up 40 (40 per cent), 1,333;

Fourth: Colden Common and Twyford, 125 cases, up 18 (17 per cent), 1,303;

Fifth: Winchester West (Weeke and Fulflood), 124 cases, down 66 (35 per cent) 1,245; and Winchester East (Winnall, Highcliffe, St Giles Hill and Bar End), 101 cases, down nine (8 per cent), 1,245;

Seventh: South Wonston, Sutton Scotney and Micheldever, 73 cases, down 29 (28 per cent), 1,233;

Eighth: Winchester North and Sparsholt with 113 cases, down 34 (23 per cent) 1,156;

Ninth: Swanmore, West Meon and Hambledon, 101 cases, up 23 (29 per cent), 1,033;

Tenth: Stanmore, 79 cases, down 47 (37 per cent), 1,141;

Eleventh: Oliver's Battery and Hursley, 88 cases, down 27, (23 per cent), 1,075;

Twelfth: Alresford, 91 cases, down seven (7 per cent), 1,072;

Thirteenth: Winchester Central and South, 118 cases, down 56 (32 per cent), 1,053;

Fourteenth: Wickham, Knowle and Whiteley, 117 cases, up 30 (34 per cent) 995.

Numbers rose at the university in the run-up to Christmas, which has students living in mainly Winchester West, Winchester Central and South and Stanmore. There were 66 cases, with nine new ones and 31 linked to the campus.

READ MORE HERE: The Chronicle's previous Covid story. How does your district compare?