by Colin Campbell
ONE month ago on July 5 Raigmore Hospital attracted national attention with the dramatic announcement that it had moved to “Code Black” status.
The mainstream media responded in kind with assertions that this was due to “a surge in coronavirus cases”.
Across the board reports bordering on sensationalist gave the clear impression, without any actual numbers being attached, that Raigmore had gone into crisis mode because of the number of people being admitted to hospital stricken with the coronavirus, and had been virtually overwhelmed by them.
In fact, as we reported at the time, the total number of people in all NHS Highland hospitals at the time was just five.
And the main reasons for Raigmore’s “Code Black” alarmism was staff having to self-isolate because of exposure to the virus, allied to staff shortages caused by annual leave.
There has subsequently been a rise in the number of coronavirus cases, which would be better described as “reported coronavirus infections”, in the intervening period.
This has been attributed to the large influx of tourists – a very welcome influx – and that may well be the case.
But the statistic which should loom large over all this is how many people have been hospitalised due to covid over the past month.
Yes, a rise in infections is obviously unwelcome, but if vaccination means people are only suffering mild symptoms and feeling poorly for a few days, or not having any symptoms at all, is that a source of any great alarm?
The total of five of people in hospitals on July 5 came after a period of three months when there were no covid patients in any Highland hospital.
And from there the number of hospitalisations did increase. In fact if the scaremongering element of the media had bothered to look them up in official statistics we’d have been treated to headlines of the “Number of virus patients in Highland hospital soars” variety.
That figure of five rose steadily over the next three weeks till it reached a peak on July 26 when there were a total of 22 people in Highland hospitals suffering from coronavirus.
On one day only, July 25, five were in intensive care.
If that upward trend of hospitalisations had continued, it would have been worthy of growing unease.
But it hasn’t. In the past week the number of people in hospitals across the Highlands has fallen steadily, or as sections of the media might say, “fallen dramatically”.
It has decreased day on day from 22 covid patients on July 27, to just 11 on August 1, with no intensive care admissions.
Raigmore has moved out of its Code Black status and hopefully management will find new terminology to use in future which gives a less melodramatic and siren wailing impression of difficult circumstances there when there are problems with staff shortages.
After 17 months everyone has their own view on different aspects of the coronavirus.
The main figure for me is the number of people in hospital because of it, and of course there is no information on underlying conditions, age, or whether or not those who have been admitted have been vaccinated. The absence of information like that has been one of the most negative features of this entire saga.
But the numbers in hospital in the Highlands as of now are falling, or falling dramatically.
This is obviously good news and hopefully the downward trend will continue.
But much of the media, by which I mean the daily papers in Scotland, has not been remotely interested in reporting good news about covid.
But a month on from those blaring “Code Black” headlines, there is nevertheless good news to report.