CUMBRIA has seen a surge in deaths caused by Covid-19 with 38 fatalities now reported by the two NHS trusts which have hospitals in the county.

Updated figures seen by The Mail reveal that at the NHS trust which runs Furness General Hospital, 20 Covid-19 deaths have been confirmed.

The NHS trust which manages both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven has formally reported 18 deaths.

The updated figures have been compiled by the respected Health Service Journal (HSJ) and updated yesterday afternoon.

They were released just an hour before the UK wide death toll from coronavirus was updated to 1,789 - the total having risen by 381 in 24 hours.

That was the biggest increase in deaths in a single day since the outbreak began.

Commenting on the latest Cumbrian figures for the outbreak, Colin Cox, the county’s Director of Public Health, said: “I have no reason to doubt these figures and I absolutely expect the HSJ figures to be an accurate reflection of the official data.

“NHS England will be updating the figures every day.”

He said that the new figure for deaths in the county did not surprise him.

“I’m sure that we’re still on the upwards trajectory,” he said. “We are still two or three weeks away from the peak of the epidemic and I would expect that figure to keep on rising. It’s going to be hard.”

Mr Cox said the unfolding scale of the tragedy - both locally and nationally in the UK - served to underline the vital and continuing need for people to stick rigidly to the social distancing rules that aim to slow the spread of covid-19 and save lives.

Only by people doing this can can time be bought to allow frontline NHS services to cope with the rising number of seriously ill patients.

Over the past week and a half, critical care capacity at Cumbria’s main hospitals in Barrow, Carlisle and Whitehaven had been doubled, he said. There are now about 30 ventilator machines available at The Infirmary and at the hospital in Whitehaven and a similar number at Furness General Hospital.

“They’re still operating within their capacity,” said Mr Cox.

“But we expect this outbreak to get considerably worse.”

In the meantime, behind the scenes, key agencies across Cumbria are working to expand that critical care capacity, cancelling non-urgent hospital work and exploring ways to increase the available intensive care beds at the county’s three mian hospitals.

At a press briefing yesterday, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove gave the Government’s latest update on the public health crisis.

He said that hospitals across the country would get extra supplies of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves for medical staff over this coming weekend.

During a press briefing yesterday, Mr Gove said the rise in deaths is “deeply shocking, disturbing and moving”.

Despite previous suggestions by health experts, he said he could identify no fixed date like Easter for when the UK may experience its peak.

He stressed that the hoped for reduction in the number of UK cases would depend on the actions that we all take. It is essential to continue social distancing, he said.

In Cumbria, some union officials have spoken about what they say has been inadequate protective equipment for front-line NHS staff in hospitals.


A HEADLINE on the front page of Wednesday’s Mail said 20 people had died at Furness General Hospital after contracting coronavirus.

That figure was in fact for the whole of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust and included figures from people who had also died at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

The correct figure, as of April 2, is now 19 deaths at FGH and 12 at RLI. We apologise for the error.