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Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust reintroduces face mask policy after reporting huge increase in coronavirus cases

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The trust that runs Newark hospital has reintroduced the need to wear masks in its sites after the number of patients positive for covid increased by about 250% in a month.

The board of directors at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs King’s Mill, Mansfield Community and Newark hospitals, have also returned to holding their monthly meeting virtually after ten outbreaks were discovered.

The trust has confirmed it has about 70 people in its three sites currently positive for the virus, which is up from 20 this time last month.

King's Mill Hospital. (28210505)
King's Mill Hospital. (28210505)

Staff absences are also 2% higher than this time a month ago.

It coincides with a similar increase in positive tests nationally as two new strains of the omicron variant make their way through the population.

Bosses at the trust had previously relaxed face covering guidance earlier as transmission began to decrease, marking the first time in more than two years that staff could work without personal protective equipment.

But the trust’s chief executive has confirmed the move has now been reversed amidst rising transmission of the virus locally.

Some director visits across the hospital sites have also been temporarily cancelled amid concerns over increasing transmission.

Government figures show the current rate for Ashfield, where its main King’s Mill Hospital hub is based, is 219.9 cases per 100,000 people. This comes after 282 people tested positive in the most recent seven-day period.

This rate was up from 137.9 cases per 100,000 people a week earlier.

In Mansfield, the current rate is 211.2 per 100,000 people, while the Newark and Sherwood rate is 229.8.

And Paul Parkinson, chief executive of the trust, has confirmed the trust has taken some precautionary measures as it is hard to say when this surge is likely to peak.

Speaking in the directors’ meeting on Thursday (July 7), he said: “Our Covid numbers are up. Patient numbers are around about 70 ­— up from 20 this time last month, with staff absences up to 6& compared with 4% last month.

“We’ve got ten outbreaks where we didn’t have any this time last month. You can see there has been an increase in community transmission and the impact it is having here on our hospital.

“As a result, we’ve reintroduced the need to wear face coverings in all areas and our [board of directors] meeting is back virtually on Teams.

“Our staff have done a very impressive job throughout the whole of the pandemic and it continues, and at the moment we can’t see when this latest surge is likely to peak.”

Speaking in his update, Mr Parkinson added wards remained under intense pressure, with wider attendance at the emergency department above pre-pandemic levels.

He said wait times were “longer than we would like” due to continued difficulties in timely discharges for existing patients.

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