As Covid cases and deaths rise this week on the Island, the Island’s NHS boss has said she feels like a 'party pooper' for the Isle of Wight Festival but has warned of its effects on the already stretched health services.

IW NHS Trust chief executive Maggie Oldham told a meeting of the trust board today (Thursday) the NHS here is nervously anticipating a further surge following the Isle of Wight Festival, which is set to take place next weekend.

IW Festival bosses have taken a range of measures to keep music fans and staff safe, from Covid-pass or test-proof entry policy to a reduced capacity and site changes to give more space.

Events which have already taken place this summer have seen a leap in cases in the weeks following, with Cornish festival Boardmasters linked to 4,700 new cases.

With the influx of tourists to the Island, more mixing of people and the relaxation of protective restrictions, Covid cases on the Island have soared — with some new days recording more than 100 new cases.

There have also been six Covid deaths at St Mary's in four days this week.

Government figures show between the last week of July and September 1, 2,289 covid cases were recorded on the Island — nearly a fifth of the Island's entire cases since the pandemic began.

Ms Oldham told the meeting: "It really makes me sad when I am out on the Island to see absolute apathy for wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

“Please, everybody, do not be apathetic, Covid has not gone away.

"I urge anyone who is out and about to follow government guidelines. We all have a part to play in trying to keep our hospital pressures at a lower level than we are currently seeing them."

Expanding on some of the Covid risks the hospital is facing, chief operative officer Joe Smyth, said 20 per cent of the acute beds are now occupied by a Covid positive patient and a second intensive care unit has had to open, which is already 'very, very full'.

Director of communications, Kirk Millis-Ward said it was being recognised nationally that messaging around measures to keep ourselves safe was not cutting through to the public in a way it had earlier in the pandemic but the public messaging before the festival will be stepped up, working with other public organisations, and strengthened.

Earlier this week, Steve Parker, medical director, said: "We are seeing some very sick people in intensive care, many of whom have not been vaccinated.

"Our plea to the Island community is to please keep your guard up."

A spokesperson for the festival said: "The Isle of Wight Festival is working closely with all relevant authorities and Public Health England to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe on-site and in the island community.

"The event's Covid-19 guidelines are on the official website and all ticket holders must adhere to these to gain entry to the Festival. 

"The Isle of Wight Festival is also operating under tight COVID testing controls during the site build."

Additional reporting by Isle of Wight County Press.