THE number of coronavirus patients in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust beds has started to rise, doubling in the last fortnight.

The increase mirrors a spike in daily admissions with Covid-19 diagnoses across the North-West as the second wave of the infection bites.

Since September 3 the number admitted to the region’s hospitals with coronavirus has shot up from 23 a day to 92 on Monday.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands the number of Covid-19 cases being treated at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals has followed the same trend more than tripling from six (with three on ventilators] on September 3 to 22 this week. The trust recorded its first coronavirus death for four weeks on Monday.

Martin Hodgson, deputy chief executive, said: “We have a small number of patients with Covid but Covid admissions are starting to increase. We do have robust plans to ensure all our patients are cared for safely, and we are monitoring the situation closely.

“Anyone who is due to come to hospital, for appointments or for procedures, is absolutely encouraged to do so – our theatres, wards and common spaces are safe. It’s vital everyone continues to do as much as they can to limit the spread of the infection and simply following the basic rules makes a big difference.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council public health director Professor Dominic Harrison said: “We have seen confirmed cases of in the East Lancashire hospitals broadly double in the last two weeks and his rise in confirmed hospital Covid-19 admissions is evident across the region.

“Whilst the numbers still remain low in relation to the first wave of the pandemic this is undoubtedly a red flag warning that the rising rates we have seen across Lancashire and the North West over the past few weeks are now translating into a more serious phase. It is evidence that the second wave of the pandemic has undoubtedly arrived for the North West.

“Whilst we have specific special measures in place to contain the virus and there is some limited evidence that this has slowed down the rise, we can expect the numbers of confirmed cases continue to increase. These will increasingly translate into hospital admissions and start to put pressure on hospital services.”

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council, said: “It is worrying admissions have tripled and a stark reminder people must stick to the rules or more deaths will follow.”

Prof Harrison said: “We still have a chance to check this trend and to mitigate the worst effects. I would urge everyone to stick to the new guidelines announced this week and those already in place across much of East Lancashire.

“Breaking or bending the rules will have effects not just for ourselves but for those more vulnerable.”