THE RISK of dying of the coronavirus in hospital is falling as intensive care fatalities drop by 20 per cent, figures have revealed.
Experts said the fall in fatalities is "good news", as cases continue to rise across the country and the government prepares to impose further restrictions on hotspot areas.
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Since the peak of the pandemic in April the fall in death rates in relation to all patients admitted to hospital has gone from six per cent to around two per cent now.
The percentage of those dying has dropped from 30 per cent to below 20 per cent since April.
Some specialists have suggested that the drop in deaths is down to new treatments that are being used to combat the virus such as steroid Dexamethasone and antiviral drug Remdesivir.
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Professor Peter Horby, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said the "good news" is that hospital rates look like they are coming down.
"What’s great to see is that it is the risk of death in hospitalised patients is coming down.
"It was pretty high at about 25 to 30 per cent in the last wave. And although the data are preliminary, it looks like it’s coming down and may be below 20 per cent so that’s something that is good news."
He added that increased testing of the virus and better treatments had led to a drop in the amount of patients being hospitalised.
Despite Prof Horby's optimism, one expert said there is a "sense of false security" at the moment in terms of how seriously people are taking the virus.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler, President of the academy of royal scientists said "we are in the most difficult phase of the pandemic so far".
At present in the UK around 65-70 people are dying everyday of the virus, at the peak of the pandemic in April, the UK was seeing over a 1,000 deaths a day.
Prof Lechler agreed that while death rates are not as high as they were at the peak of the pandemic, he said high rates of hospitalisation are still a huge threat to the NHS.
We are much better at managing this illness, we have learnt a lot
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme he said: "That is a potential source of false security.
"The academy of medical scientists wrote a report on the request of Patrick Vallance six weeks ago preparing for winter – we emphasised the point that if there is this kind of second wave which we are seeing – that it will risk putting the NHS under pressure that we saw in March and April.
"Which of course led to the displacement of routine clinical activity and cancer waits and all that stuff going in the wrong direction."
He added that during the summer months, infections were being seen in younger sects of the population and added that "it's very clear that hospital admissions are going up again".
"The death rates lag a long way behind the hospital admissions.
"It’s also true to say and very encouraging that we are much better at managing this illness, we have learnt a lot."
Prof Lechler added that the main concern now is "the rate of hospital admissions going up" and the effect this would have on other NHS services.
The latest report from the government, dated October 1, shows that in England, there are currently 285 mechanical ventilation beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients.
The total number of beds occupied by Covid patients sits at around 2,069.
Yesterday it was reported that the UK recorded a further 12,872 coronavirus cases – a nine per cent increase on the week before.
Prof Horby added: "We have a doubling time of about eight to 15 days so it is not long before those ICU (intensive care unit) beds could be full and we could be in a really difficult situation.
"So I am afraid we are going to have to make some very difficult choices and act very quickly."
His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to outline new restrictions – many of which will hit areas in the North of England such as Liverpool and Manchester.
A document drawn up by NHS managers has also revealed that hospitals in the North West are set to expect around 850 coronavirus deaths in the next five weeks.
Almost seven thousand people will be treated for Covid-19 in the region it warns.
The new death toll would represent around a third of the deaths which took place in the five week period starting on 20 March, which was the start of the first peak of the virus
One senior clinician said: “By the end of next week intensive care units in a few North West hospitals will be in surge capacity. We have the equipment and physical resources, but we’re concerned how we will get staff from across the region.”
Ganesh Suntharalingam, president of the Intensive Care Society, said: “At the moment all ICUs are working within normal capacity, but the proportion of ICU patients with Covid-19 is on average 12 per cent in England and up to 22 per cent in the North West, with higher figures like one in three in some hotspots."
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