London’s largest hospital trust is caring for 10 coronavirus patients in intensive care.
And staff at Barts Health NHS Trust are also caring for a further 43 patients who have tested positive for the virus.
The trust includes Bart’s Hospital in the City of London, the Royal London and Whitechapel and Whipps Cross in Leytonstone.
Four of the patients with coronavirus were newly diagnosed on Sunday (27 September), the trust said.
Since the pandemic started 663 patients with coronavirus have died at hospitals controlled by the trust and a further 3,124 patients with the illness have recovered and been discharged.
The trust has plans to increase its care capacity for coronavirus by 150% as it braces itself for a second wave of the pandemic this winter.
It currently has 125 critical care beds but plans to add 195 more over a month, largely by fully opening a bespoke unit at The Royal London Hospital.
In addition, there are now 490 overnight beds in the five hospitals, plus 61 day care spaces, so patients whose planned operations were postponed earlier in the pandemic can now be rescheduled for treatment.
Alwen Williams, the group chief executive, said: “Our hospitals look quite different to the casual visitor because of the necessary steps we are taking to keep our staff and patients safe.
“Infection prevention and control remains our top priority, and departments are now divided into zones so coronavirus cases can be treated in isolation. All staff and visitors must wear face masks in public and patient areas.”
Five members of staff from Bart’s – the UK’s oldest hospital – were given the Freedom of the City of London to thank them for their work during the pandemic recently.
As London was added to the government’s coronavirus watchlist on September 25, Ms Williams said: “There is a rising tide of infection – we need to save lives and protect the NHS.”
Because of the risk of infection visitors are not allowed at the hospitals.
There are exceptions if patients are dying, a child, lacks capacity, or is giving birth or attending a 12 or 20 week scan.
Only one visitor is allowed at a time in these circumstances and must follow strict safety rules and restrictions.
Staff are encouraging people to bring in mobile phones and tablets to keep in touch with friends and family.
They can also organise virtual contact if necessary.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for Public Health England said people need to remember the essential health guidance – hands, face, space.
He said: “We are currently seeing much more widespread transmission in the city and being recognised as an area of concern is an important step in our efforts to control the virus. We are continuing to keep a watching brief on the situation and this new status will enable us to respond more rapidly and with additional measures should cases rise further and faster.
“As we continue our efforts, Londoners can do their bit to help by downloading the NHS Test & Trace App, adhering to government guidelines around the rule of six and remembering hands, face, space: wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance.”