Covid-19 cases are back on the rise in Sheffield as lockdown starts to lift

Sheffield’s Covid-19 infection rate has risen in the past week, as more schools begin to open and the roadmap out of lockdown in the city starts to be implemented.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:18 am

The infection rate for the week up to March 11 (latest data) in Sheffield stands at 89.9 new cases per 100,000 people, which means there were 526 new cases recorded that week.

This is a small increase from the 494 new cases in the seven days before that, where the infection rate was 84.5.

In spite of this small fluctuation, Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell explained that the infection rate was generally on the decline, albeit at a rate slightly behind much of the rest of the country.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Commuters wear face masks as they wait at a tram stop in Sheffield (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Fell said: “The overall case rate is falling. R is currently between 0.6 and 0.8. The rate of decline is beginning to settle. I think it will settle at between 70 and 80 per 100,000 over seven days.

“There’s still a significant number of cases in South Yorkshire. Last week was down [approximately] 500 from the week before but it’s still a significant number of cases.

“As we get further into the implementation of the roadmap or unpicking the lockdown, that decline will probably slow further and it may start to increase.

Greg Fell

“Sheffield has the lowest rate in South Yorkshire. I think we’re probably two weeks behind the rest of the country in terms of the epidemic curve and I think that’s largely to do with population and economic structure.

“But the implication is we will [carry out] the unlocking to slightly higher baseline rates.”

Mr Fell also explained that while the roadmap out of lockdown is ‘good’, people mixing more has already led to an increase in infection rates compared to how it was under strict lockdown.

However he said that the impact of the vaccination was ‘spectacular’.

“Hospital activity continues to fall in a straight line; undoubtedly the impact of lockdown and very very definitely the impact of vaccination having a spectacular effect, moreso than any of us could have actually hoped for,” he said.

“Case rates are falling in the over 60s – there are still some cases but they are mild or asymptomatic.

“The working age population is flat to slightly increasing and the school age population is beginning to increase, and I think that will increase over the next couple of weeks as schools get fully back.

“Overall I think the rate will be flat over the whole population into spring and then early summer.”

The first phase of roadmap out of lockdown saw schools start to reopen last week, with year groups starting at different points to minimise contact, and lateral flow tests being carried out among pupils.

A number of schools in Sheffield have already sent groups of pupils home to self-isolate after outbreaks of the virus.

Over the course of the next few months shops, garden centres, close-contact services such as hair dressers and salons, and hospitality venues can start to reopen.

The Government hopes to have lifted all lockdown restrictions by June 22.