In Sheffield, there were 2,457 new case sof Covid-19 in the week to October 15, meaning the latest infection rate stands at 417 per 100,000 of the population.
In the week to October 6 it was 330.1 per 100,000 – a slight fall from the week before that (to September 29), where the rate was 334.5.
And the number of cases reported every day has been steadily increasing between October 6 and October 15 – the latest date on record, reflecting a predicted trend headed towards a spike in infections in the autumn and winter months.
In a bid to increase the vaccine rollout in time to combat this, children under 16 are now able to get the jab at walk-in clinics, and the hope is that every secondary school aged child in Sheffield will have been offered the vaccine by October half term.
This comes as the Government is under increasing pressure to explain when it will enact its ‘Plan B’ – a strategy to tackle rising Covid infections by implementing mandatory face coverings in public, among other measures.
Asked on Sky News the morning how bad the situation in the NHS would have to get before the Government moved to plan B for tackling coronavirus, health minister Edward Argar said it would not “be appropriate to set an arbitrary figure, X number of infections, X number of hospitalisations”.
He said: “We need to look at all this in the round, we need to look at the death rate, absolutely.
“We need to look at that booster rollout programme, vaccination programme, vaccination rates in young people, the 12 to 15-year-olds, because we’re seeing in that school-age population, that’s where we’re seeing actually the biggest increases driving these infections.”
He added: “I can’t give you a simple, here is a sort of black and white answer, here is a binary line, because there’s a whole range of factors we’ll take into consideration.”
Doctors have accused ministers of being “wilfully negligent” after the Health Secretary ruled out immediately implementing the Government’s coronavirus “Plan B”.
Sajid Javid said people must get their Covid-19 vaccines and any booster shots, as well as doing things like wearing masks in crowded places as he repeated a warning that cases could reach 100,000 a day as the country enters a challenging winter period.
But he said the Government will not be implementing its “Plan B” strategy “at this point”.
England’s autumn and winter coronavirus strategy includes “Plan B” as a contingency measure if the NHS comes under unsustainable pressure.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The Westminster Government said it would enact ‘Plan B’ to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed; as doctors working on the frontline, we can categorically say that time is now.
“By the Health Secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown.
“It is therefore incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and to protect the NHS.”