Lancashire health boss bracing for 'tsunami of Omicron' cases as critical incident declared at Morecambe Bay hospitals

A health chief said Lancashire was bracing for a "tsunami of Omicron" cases as a critical incident was declared at Morecambe Bay hospitals.

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust declared the incident on Monday evening amid rising Covid hospital admissions and staff testing positive for coronavirus.

Trish Armstrong-Child, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, also confirmed an "internal critical incident" was declared due to "operational challenges".

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These included Blackpool Victoria Hospital running at "full capacity", long waits in A&E and "high staff sickness absence levels of above 10 per cent."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, public health director for Lancashire County Council, said the county was at "the foothills" of an Omicron wave.

He said: "Lancashire is beginning to experience what London did at the beginning of last month and, of course, London is better resourced and the infrastructures are well organised compared to other regions, so we are bracing ourselves for a tsunami of Omicron cases in Lancashire.

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"We are clearly seeing a shift from 20s and 30s and 40-year-olds being affected by Omicron to a clear shift to a more 60-plus age group being affected, and that is what is causing us concern as well as the immediate concern being absence, staff absence, both in the NHS and education – schools are just going to re-open this week.

"But this is all meaning that we are not able to concentrate on the non-Covid issues, that's really needing to be addressed immediately as well, so it's a double challenge we face: not only fighting Covid but all the other pent-up demand and need due to non-Covid issues."

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Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council
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