HOSPITALS in Herefordshire are treating fewer coronavirus patients this week after the number rose slightly.

With visiting restrictions still in place at Wye Valley NHS Trust hospitals, including Hereford County Hospital, the number of Covid patients has fallen by eight over the last week.

On Tuesday, January 11, the number of patients with Covid hit 46 – the highest since February 2020.

But by January 25, that number had fallen to 27, rising slightly to 29 two weeks later on Tuesday, February 8.

The latest data, for Tuesday, February 15, showed there were 21 patients with Covid.

Over the last month, January 20 was the day where the trust was treating the lowest number of patients, with data showing there were 20.

As the number of patients in hospitals falls, so to has the infection rate.

Latest figures show 1,116 people in Herefordshire tested positive for coronavirus in the seven days to February 14 – 642 fewer than the week before.

The infection rate on February 14 stood at 576.4 cases per 100,000 people – higher than the UK average of 533.

The latest hospital figures from NHS England also showed that 12 Covid patients were admitted to hospital in Herefordshire in the week to Sunday, February 13.

The week before, that number was 24, and a fortnight before it was 21.

The figures, published on the Government website, showed there were no patients in a mechanical ventilation bed on Tuesday, which are used for the most seriously ill.

That was down from one the week before.

Wye Valley NHS Trust chief executive Glen Burley said in January that the patient numbers reported by the NHS and Government could be misleading.

"The current numbers of Covid-related hospital admissions reported are also misleading," Mr Burley said.

"More than half of our reported cases are now incidental findings; people who have been admitted for other reasons who just happen to test positive.

"We test every admission and sequence the results to identify any new strains. While Omicron is incredibly transmissible, it is relatively mild for those who have been vaccinated. Particularly so for those who have also had their booster.

"The demand we are facing in this early part of the new year therefore should feel no worse than most previous winters."