Salford health boss says more people are catching Covid in hospital

Free lateral flow tests have now been scrapped

Salford's deputy director of public health claims more people are contracting Covid in hospital despite going in with a different ailment.

Gillian McLauchlan has given her Covid-19 update to the Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel and also said more people are going into hospital with the virus.

She echoed the words of her Wigan counterpart, professor Kate Ardern, who earlier in the week had similar news for the councillors in Wigan regarding Covid and scarlet fever.

According to the seven-day case rate data up to April 1, there were 1,467 cases of Covid in Salford. The current case rate per 100,000 people is 558.4.

Ms McLaughlan has slammed the Government's decision to scrap free lateral flow tests in the wake of the rising case numbers.

She said "As you are all aware the free testing is now gone and they are only available for those in a high risk setting.

"We are still dealing with outbreaks in the city. We are still providing public health advice to those who are deemed high risk.

"We have a statutory duty to protect our population. But now we do not have any extra funding [for buying Lateral Flow Tests for healthcare workers].

"We still have high rates in the city and when you see that you do get higher hospital admissions as a result.

"We are getting large groups who are coming into hospital with something else and then getting tested and finding out they have Covid."

She went on to explain that they had taken steps of warning schools of the cases in order to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Schools across Salford are being warned of rising rates of Covid-19

Members of the scrutiny panel were also critical of the Government's decision to scrap the free Covid tests - and the deputy health director suggested that more Covid cases would go unrecognised in Salford compared to more affluent areas of the country.

Deputy City Mayor, Councillor John Merry, lead member for Adult Services, Health and Wellbeing, was openly critical of the Conservative government at the meeting.

"The number of cases is rising, I really think that getting rid of testing has been a very big mistake on behalf of the Government.

"I think this whole strategy is starting to unravel."

Councillor Arnold Saunders defended the Government's decision to scrap the free Lateral Flow Tests by stating the tests were available for £2 at pharmacies.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "As we learn to live with Covid, free testing should rightly be focused on at-risk groups. 

"After 1 April, limited testing will still be made available for a small number of at-risk groups - the government will shortly set out further details on which groups will be eligible.

“Vaccines remain our best wall of defence which is why we are now offering over-75s and the most vulnerable a spring booster dose to top up their protection against this virus."