NEW figures show the number of people with coronavirus in hospital in Worcestershire is higher than the peak of the first wave.

And with a further two new coronavirus related deaths in Worcestershire hospitals announced on Friday, it means the death toll has been high this week with 21 new Covid deaths reported since November 14 - all coming at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust sites including Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital.

The new data, that has been seen by this paper and up to Thursday evening, shows the extent of the battle hospital staff face against the deadly virus as it reveals:

• In the last seven days prior to Thursday there were 11 admitted with Covid (in the seven days prior to that there were five).

• During those seven days up to November 19, 53 were diagnosed with Covid, compared to 35 the week before.

• And people with Covid occupying a bed stood at 140 up to Thursday, compared to the previous week of 178.

In comparison, on October 1, 12 beds were occupied by patients with Covid, according to the NHS England figures.

And the number of Covid patients using beds is higher than the peak in the first wave - 141 on April 6.

As the figures stood on Saturday, there had been a total of 348 Covid related hospital deaths this year, when Worcestershire Health and Care Trust’s figure was added.

Peter Pinfield, chairman of the patients watchdog Healthwatch Worcestershire, said: “The picture changes on a daily basis but the situation in Worcestershire, be under no illusion, is quite serious. Therefore as a public we must play our part to try and keep these numbers down, to keep ourselves safe, not to add to the escalating situation. I keep saying we have not yet seen the worst of this yet.”

“The hard working hospital staff , they have got to work through Christmas. We know the numbers are increasing - they face a very challenging Christmas.”