Health chiefs said community prevalence of the virus is causing serious capacity issues across the whole system.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in the week ending June 17, an estimated 250,700 people in private households had the virus – equating to around one in 20.
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This is having an impact on workforce, with one fifth of nursing staff not at work as a result of Covid-19 absence.
She said: “Covid-19 has not gone away and cases are continuing to rise across Lothian.
“Our hospital system is under extreme pressure and we need people across Lothian to do their bit to prevent the system becoming overwhelmed.
“We would urge people to take sensible precautions when they are indoors or in crowded spaces and remind them that regular hand hygiene is vital and face coverings should be considered, especially in crowded places.”
Tracey Gillies, Medical Director of NHs Lothian, said: “The number of hospital inpatients who have tested positive has increased by 50% since a week ago. This presents many logistical issues as they need to be cared for within Covid-19 specific areas.
“On top of that, and in line with community transmission levels, there are increased numbers of staff testing positive with Covid-19, who must then self-isolate to protect patients.
“All of this means services are stretched right across the system, including community and social care services, resulting in high numbers of patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but who cannot be discharged because they need care in place to support them at home.”
Relatives of patients are also being urged to help where they can by providing transport home for patients who are medically fit to be discharged, rather than have their relative wait for hospital transport.
“This speeds up the discharge process and in turn frees up more hospital beds sooner, allowing faster admission for patients from our Emergency Departments where admission queues can form when the hospitals are full.
Relatives are also being asked if they can consider offering support to their loved ones who have been clinically assessed as “medically fit for discharge” but might still need extra help around their home.
Dr Gillies added: “We know that it is better for people to be looked after in a homely setting once they are medically fit to leave hospital.
“Unfortunately, the pressure on community and social care services means many patients are waiting too long for social care support and as a result spending longer in hospital than they need to.
“When appropriate, we therefore ask families to consider if they can step in and help support their loved one once they are fit for discharge.
“Again, this helps with the flow of patients through our hospitals and ensures that beds are available for the most urgent of cases.”