Sheffield's Covid rate rises to top five nationally as health chief puts spike in infections down to Tramlines festival

Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell has said that Tramlines and the fringe events that took place over the same weekend has caused a spike in Covid-19 infection rates in the city, but that this does not mean it was a mistake to hold the test events.
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In the seven days up to August 1 – which is the latest week on record – the number of new Covid-19 cases recorded across the city was 2,894. This is an increase from 2,429 the week before.

That meant Sheffield’s infection rate rose from 415.3 new cases per 100,000 people to 494.8, which is the fifth highest figure in the country.

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Sheffield had been significantly further down the national table of infection rates before the recent increase in positive cases.

Greg FellGreg Fell
Greg Fell

Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell, said that much of the spike could could be credited to the concerts held over Tramlines weekend.

Speaking to the BBC this morning he said: “The most obvious explanation, and let’s not beat about the bush, is that we held a concert in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago called Tramlines and there was some significant fringe events around Tramlines, as there always is.

“Fifty-odd thousand people came together. Some of the transmission may have been in the field. I should be categorical here: Tramlines ran an event as a Government test event and did so as safely as possible but it was never going to be risk free. And there were lots of people congregating in the Fringe events around the city centre as well.

The crowd enjoying the main stage acts.The crowd enjoying the main stage acts.
The crowd enjoying the main stage acts.
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“That almost certainly is explaining what is happening in Sheffield compared to other parts of South Yorkshire.

“It is now settling and beginning to go down, and the other thing I would probably say is that what we are not seeing is any real evidence of secondary spread. What we are seeing is the same as what we saw when the universities first started in October 2020: big outbreaks that settle back down.

“We are not seeing a knock-on impact in hospitals really at all.”

When asked if he thought Tramlines was a mistake, Mr Fell said it was not.

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He explained: “The Prime Minister had opened the country and implemented step 4 of the programme. It was a political decision.

“I think it was the right thing to do to implement step 4 [on July 19] and running Tramlines was a risk managed event. I don’t think it was a mistake running the event, I think we have to learn to live with the virus and the learning can come from a test event and it’s important that we don’t draw the wrong conclusions from it because the evaluation isn’t complete.”

Mr Fell added that hospital admissions are “busy but stable”, and that it is “almost exlcusively younger people who are not fully vaccinated” who are being admitted.

However, he added they are not as poorly as previous patients have been and their hospital stays were shorter.