Four wards are caring for Covid patients at Homerton Hospital whilst 300 members of staff are having to self-isolate.
The general hospital is currently looking after nearly 100 patients who have tested positive for Covid in four “red wards”. These include six people in intensive care, though a hospital spokesman said this number “changes hour by hour”.
The Homerton has seen an upward trend in cases since the summer, from three or four admissions a day to 63 new cases on Christmas Day.
The hospital opened its escalation wards earlier in the autumn – two months before it might normally expect to need them, if at all.
But the spokesman said: “Patients who have been coming in are not as severely or as critically ill.”
He said it differed from earlier stages of the pandemic when some of the most seriously ill patients were in hospital for many weeks.
Across the UK, the majority of seriously ill patients have not been fully vaccinated, or had any vaccines.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, the hospital has seen 2,514 covid patients – with a peak of 203 people on 5 January 2021, during the second wave.
Some patients are testing positive for Covid when being treated for other illnesses.
The spread of the new Omicron variant means 300 members of staff, or seven per cent of the workforce, are currently isolating at home because they have tested positive. This includes non-medical staff. The trust employs 3,500 people, with a further 1,000 contractors and trainees.
A hospital spokesman said: “A&E remains under pressure but it is a different situation from last year.”
During the worst wave of the pandemic, the children’s ward was closed to young patients as it was used for Covid patients who needed oxygen.
The spokesman said more people are visiting A&E for a range of ailments compared with this time last year when London was in Tier 4 and restrictions were tighter.
The hospital urged people to get the Covid jab if they have not yet had it to help protect them from the virus – and to get the flu vaccination too.
Update: this article was amended at 10.30am on 5 January 2022. The article originally stated that 15 patients with Covid were in intensive care, rather than six.