'The most challenging month I have ever experienced'.

Following the hits the Isle of Wight took from the UK strain of Covid-19, the chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust has spoken of just how tough the past month has been.

Government figures show 3,810 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on the Island in January, more than half of the Island's total cases.

Speaking at a meeting of the trust's board, Maggie Oldham, chief executive of the IOW NHS Trust, said: "January was the most challenging month I have experienced in the 39 years I have worked in healthcare."

According to figures from NHS England, 277 Covid-positive patients were admitted to, or diagnosed with the virus in the previous 24 hours at, St Mary's Hospital, in Newport, in January.

At its highest point, on January 18, 95 beds were occupied, 13 requiring mechanical ventilation.

The challenging month also saw patients airlifted from St Mary's to the mainland as the trust no longer had the capacity to treat them.

During January, 66 people died in hospital, where they had tested positive for Covid-19 or where it was mentioned on their death certificate. It is the highest month for IOW Covid deaths so far.

Case numbers and infection rates are falling and latest data shows the number of beds occupied at St Mary's by Covid positive patients is dropping, with 48 beds filled on February 9.

Despite the 'good position' the Island is getting to, Ms Oldham is still urging people to stick to the government guidance as the numbers are still high.

Ms Oldham also said it will take some time for the full impact of the sheer number of cases earlier in the year to be felt as it works its way through the NHS trust, with each service expected to see peaks.

Elective procedures are yet to start again at the trust after they were stopped due to pressures on other services caused by the influx of cases, but Ms Oldham said they will be restarting as soon as possible.

Ms Oldham thanked all the staff and volunteers in the organisation for all the work and support they have given during the pandemic, some members working for weeks on end.