THE trust behind Southampton's biggest hospital is caring for 100 patients that have tested positive for Covid.

This comes just days after the trust told the Echo that it is struggling with staff absences due to the virus.

According to the latest data available, University Hospital Southampton, which runs the General Hospital, had a century of beds occupied by positive patients on January 4.

Back in November, this figure only reached as high as 71.

As previously reported, the trust had 874 members of staff off with sickness on January 5.

Around 54 per cent of these absences were due to Covid, whether that be infection, self-isolation, track and trace, or caring responsibilities. The trust employs 12,000 in total.

“Staff absences are naturally placing extra strain on our hospital as we face increased pressures and demand right across the trust and services we provide," said a UHS spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs sites in Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover, has 25 positive patients. Across all hospitals in England, the figure stands at 15,044.

The army has said it could offer assistance to more hospitals around the UK if needed, after 40 military medics and 160 general duty personnel were drafted in to help fill gaps caused by absences of NHS staff in London.

Air Commodore John Lyle said: “We can’t really forecast too far ahead, but certainly, throughout this current surge, we know that it’s particularly difficult in London at the minute, but we are aware that this is impacting all across the United Kingdom.

“We remain in discussions and there are a number of areas where we’re looking at the potential for more assistance."

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said rising Covid-19 cases were “piling even more pressure” on hospital trust workers.

He said: “Omicron means more patients to treat and fewer staff to treat them.

“While we don’t know the full scale of the potential impact this new strain will have, it’s clear it spreads more easily and, as a result, Covid cases in hospitals are the highest they’ve been since February last year – piling even more pressure on hard-working staff."