BBC News: Weston Hospital to open gradually from next week

Weston General Hospital will be gradually reopened next week, after a coronavirus outbreak forced it to close to new admissions.

The hospital stopped accepting new patients on 25 May but health officials are now confident that cases have not spread to the wider community. 

Chief executive of Weston Area Health NHS Trust Robert Woolley said reopening would be done in “a phased way”.

About 6% of the 1,700 staff tested positive but had no symptoms.

Testing of patients and staff has been carried out regularly since the decision to halt admissions and Public Health England believes the outbreak has been contained within the hospital.

Mr Woolley said: “We’ve got good evidence that there are no new infections and that tells us the measures put in place to limit cross infection in the hospital have worked. 

“We are now testing all staff again and are aiming to start getting services back again next week.”

Weston MP John Penrose said he was “relieved” that the outbreak had been contained within the hospital.

“It could have been so much worse,” he said. “We were worried it might be broader, with multiple sources of infection around the town or district.”

Concerns over the source of the outbreak led schools in the area to delay their scheduled return on 1 June, but North Somerset Council has now advised them to reopen. 

Gary Lewis, chief executive of the Lighthouse Schools Partnership, which manages over 20 schools in the region, confirmed that they would be opening on Monday. 

“Our schools have planned meticulously for this wider reopening and have thorough risk assessments in place,” he said.