Will there be another lockdown this Christmas?: Sheffield campaigners demand Government action to prevent one

Sheffield campaigners have called on the Government to act now to prevent another Christmas lockdown this year.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 1:14 pm

The Sheffield branch of the Save Our NHS campaign group has demanded that the Government ‘do more’ to protect people than ‘rely’ on the vaccination roll-out, and warned that failure to do so could leave the NHS dangerously under pressure.

This comes as the infection rate in Sheffield continues to remain high, at 320.9 new cases per 100,000 of the population for the seven days to November 16.

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Sheffield Save Our NHS

This is lower than it was the month before: it stood at 419.0 on October 16. However, the upcoming cold weather, the arrival of winter and the addition of influenza and other respiratory viruses mean that the dangers of Covid-19 remain high and cases are expected to rise.

Mick Suter, speaking on behalf of Sheffield Save Our NHS, said: “The Government must act now to prevent another Christmas lockdown this year.

“Boris Johnson’s press conference last Monday showed that the Government continues to rely solely on the vaccination rollout to combat Covid in England. This is a dangerous strategy, particularly in this city since the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group revealed at their November meeting that we are facing a shortage of vaccines over the coming weeks.”

SSONHS has said that alongside a ‘ramping up’ of the vaccination programme, it wants to see better ventilation of public buildings, and financial support for those self isolating.

Sheffield director of public health Greg Fell says there is an "exceptionally difficult winter ahead" as the NHS and social care struggle with Covid, flu and other illnesses.

“We do not accept the notion that ‘it’s all over’ and people should get back to normal,” Mr Suter added.

“Nor do we accept that responsibility should fall solely on the individual – the Government must act through restoring some of the previous legal measures and by setting a lead in mask-wearing and social distancing.

“At our last meeting, we heard from members working in the health services and from patients how all parts of the NHS and Social Care services are in crisis.

"Every sector from hospitals, waiting lists, ambulance services, mental health services, GP practices and all of social care are faced with too few exhausted staff, low morale, inadequate pay, unrewarded effort and a lack of respect from the Government. Keeping Covid-19 infections to a minimum would greatly help the NHS.

"Lockdown should be the absolute last resort and we call on the Government to listen to its scientific and medical advisors and institute measures which will mitigate infection and avoid a Christmas lockdown.”

Last month, Sheffield’s public health director Greg Fell said that it is essential people are still as careful about Covid-19 as they were this time last year, if we are to avoid more stringent anti-Covid measures such as lockdowns needing to be put into place.

Mr Fell said: “The tune has not changed. Get vaccinated if you have not. Wear a mask indoors if you can.

"If you have symtoms that you think might be Covid, get a PCR test and act appropriately on the result of that test.

"And be careful about mixing with vulnerable people.”

He added: “One year ago we would have been in full lockdown with this infection rate and these figures.

“The vaccine programme is the thing that made all the difference."

"The rate is high and some people are ill or in hospital but it is nothing like the same as it was in the past. It is in a completely different league thanks to the vaccine.”

Infection levels in Europe have risen dramatically with countries like Germany and Austria imposing lockdowns, even though Germany’s seven-day infection rate was arrpoximately 15 per cent below the UK’s.

Boris Johnson said that ‘this new wave may wash up on our shores’, but SSONHS say that the PM ignored the fact that the latest UK infection rate is already higher than many of the UK’s nearest neighbours.

As well as being higher than Germany’s the UK rate was more than three times higher than France’s, four times Italy’s and more than six times that of Spain.