Cornwall’s main hospital is preparing for the next peak of Covid-19 cases as the number of inpatients with the virus doubling in a week. The board of Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust (RCHT) received an update on Covid-19 when it met this morning.

Trust chief executive Steve Williamson said that the number of inpatients at Treliske with Covid-19 had more than doubled in the last week going from 20 to just over 40. He said that other health settings had also seen “a significant” increase in covid cases in the last week.

He said: “That is likely to increase. There are two main scenarios being considered nationally and here in Cornwall. Potentially we could see a peak in the next three to four weeks that could be 70 to 80 inpatients with covid in Royal Cornwall Hospital.

“However, that could continue and we may not see a peak until later in the summer and that could be the same level as we saw in March and April this year. We are looking at those two scenarios and we are assessing this on a day by day, week by week basis.”

Robin Jones, chief operating officer at RCHT, said that the hospital was preparing a dedicated “red ward” which would be used for covid patients and that a second ward would also be made available.

He said that the trust and all other healthcare providers in Cornwall now require all staff and visitors to wear masks at all times in all hospital buildings. He said that this blanket approach was done to make it simple to understand and to protect staff and patients.

Alison Thorne-Henderson, interim director of people at RCHT, said that there had been an increase in staff testing positive and being absent with Covid-19. She explained that on Monday there were 87 staff members with Covid-19, but overnight into Tuesday that increased to 145 and by Wednesday stood at 153.

She said: “We can see that between Monday and Tuesday an almost doubling of staff with Covid. It is not at the numbers we had in April when we had over 500 staff with covid but it is a significant rise.”

The board also heard that a staff party which had been organised had also been postponed due to the rise in Covid-19 cases. Alison said that the decision had been taken with “huge regret” but stressed that the event had been postponed and not cancelled with plans to rearrange it for a later date.

A staff awards ceremony which was set to be part of the party event is still set to go ahead but will be hosted virtually.