Having seen a summer surge of cases, pushing the Isle of Wight NHS Trust into dealing with a third wave of the pandemic, chief executive Maggie Oldham has said the services are nervously anticipating a further surge following the Isle of Wight Festival, which is set to take place next week.
Events that have already taken place this summer have seen a fallout of cases in the weeks following, with cornish music festival Boardmasters linked to 4,700 new cases.
With the influx of tourists to the Island, more mixing of people and the relaxation of protective restrictions, COVID cases on the Island have soared — with some new days recording more than 100 new cases. However, cases don’t necessarily mean hospitalisations or deaths, with 1 in 3 people not even displaying symptoms.
Government figures show between the last week of July and 1st September, 2,289 COVID cases were recorded on the Island — nearly a fifth of the Island’s entire cases since the pandemic began.
Speaking at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust Board today (Thursday), Ms Oldham said:
“It really makes me sad when I am out on the Island to see absolute apathy for wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.
“Please, everybody, do not be apathetic, Covid has not gone away.
“I urge anyone who is out and about to follow government guidelines. We all have a part to play in trying to keep our hospital pressures at a lower level than we are currently seeing them.”
Expanding on some of the COVID risks the hospital is facing, chief operative officer Joe Smyth, said 20% of the acute beds are now occupied by a COVID positive patient and a second intensive care unit has had to open, which is already ‘very, very full’. Earlier this week the NHS refused to comment on how many of those in hospital were unvaccinated.
Director of communications at the trust, Kirk Millis-Ward said it was being recognised nationally that messaging around measures to keep ourselves safe was not cutting through to the public in a way it had earlier in the pandemic but the public messaging before the festival will be stepped up, working with other public organisations, and strengthened.
With up to 50,000 people anticipated to attend the festival, organisers behind the event say it is taking precautions to ensure it goes ahead COVID safe.
A spokesperson for the festival said:
“The Isle of Wight Festival is working closely with all relevant authorities and Public Health England to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe on-site and in the island community.
“The event’s COVID-19 guidelines are on the official website and all ticket holders must adhere to these to gain entry to the Festival.
“The Isle of Wight Festival is also operating under tight COVID testing controls during the site build.”
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