Confusion surrounds the latest Covid situation in Wiltshire - where the number of infections is officially plummeting and yet hospitals are asking people to stay away as wards are clogging up with Covid patients.

Wiltshire Council health chiefs say the Government’s removal of the requirement for mass community testing means case data is no longer reliable in painting a true picture of what's actually happening.

The most recent data from the Government reveals that between April 15 and 21, 1,410 people in the county had a confirmed positive test result, a drop of -36 per cent on the previous seven days.

Official statistics for Wiltshire also reveal during the same time deaths have dropped by 35 per cent to 11 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

But Great Western Hospital is filling up with Covid patients and it has issued an appeal to people not to go to A&E unless their condition is serious or life-threatening.

The Swindon hospital has issued an alert, saying: “Many pharmacies and local GP surgeries have reopened so please do consider if you can use any of these services for minor injuries and common illnesses.”

A spokesman for Great Western Hospital said: “We are experiencing high numbers of Covid patients at the moment and it is a real struggle for us to find beds for non-Covid patients”.

Although the hospital is under pressure they are stressing they are not instructing the sick and the injured to stay away from A&E but instead contact NHS 111 first to be triaged.

Meanwhile Salisbury District Hospital is saying the A&E service is also under pressure and is encouraging people to consider alternative care.

In a Tweet issued on Wednesday, April 20 the hospital warne they were very busy.

"Unless you have a serious or life-threatening injury or illness please do not attend A&E - consider alternatives such as the Salisbury Walk In Centre or your local pharmacy.

"If you're not sure what to do, visit or call 111.

Government figures for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust state that there were 27 patients in hospital with coronavirus on April 19.

In a statement from Wiltshire Council, Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for Public Health said: “The covid case rate has been falling in Wiltshire since mid-March but the figures published on the Government website will have been impacted by changes to the national guidance surrounding testing that came into effect on 1 April.

"A high degree of caution should therefore be used when viewing case figures.”

Government figures for Wiltshire show that testing figures have dropped considerably. Between April 14 and 20 April, there have been 25,949 tests. This shows a decrease of -25.2% compared to the previous 7 days.

Cllr Blair-Pelling added: “The removal of the requirement for mass community testing means that case data is now unlikely to provide a true picture of case numbers in the wider community and is more likely to instead reflect case numbers where testing is still required and being carried out such as in hospitals, care homes and among people in vulnerable or higher risk groups.

“The number of deaths with Covid-19 recorded on the death certificate in the first three months of this year is significantly lower than the number recorded in the first three months of 2021.”

The figures also show that in Wiltshire, with a population of around 727,000, 423,995 people had been given a first dose of vaccine, 406,592 people had been given a second dose and 341,498 people had been given a booster or third dose by April 20.