Health boss explains Sheffield's rising coronavirus infection rate and risk of local lockdown

Director of Public Health for Sheffield Greg Fell has reassured people that Sheffield is not at risk of local lockdown as restrictions are imposed on Greater Manchester and the lifting of measures is delayed by the Government.

Mr Fell’s reassurances come after it was announced that Sheffield’s infection rate had risen in the past week, from 15.3 cases per per 100,000 people to 17.0 cases, sparking fears that the city was at risk of greater restrictions.

Today the updated ‘watch list’ from Public Health England, which highlights areas in the country that are at risk of being placed in local lockdown because of the number of outbreaks in their areas, was published.

Sheffield is not on the list, however other places in Yorkshire including Rotherham and Wakefield are.

Coronavirus update with Greg Fell - Director for Public Health Sheffield.

Mr Fell said: “The infection rate has been creeping up in Sheffield and that is a good thing and it is deliberate.

“Two to three weeks ago we showed that whilst the infection rate had gone down massively compared to the month previous, the decline of the curve had started stagnating. The infection rate was being a bit stubborn, basically, and was hard to get down further.

“It was immediately obvious that the transmission was happening at small community level and household level, so it was a case of getting on top of that quickly.

“We also noticed that the epidemiology had shifted towards working aged people. This means that young adults and middle-aged adults were the people most commonly carrying the disease.

“In these people the symptoms are often mild, and as a result these people often think they can tough it out. They will probably be fine, but the issue is that, for example, their gran would probably not be.

“Our response to this has been to ramp up testing and the accessibility of testing, and encouraging these people with mild symptoms to get tested, and that has been successful. We have doubled the number of people getting tested.

“What that means, though, is that the number of cases goes up. But this increase in the number of cases is not anything new. It is just that because of increased testing we are uncovering what is already there.

“I can’t comment on Greater Manchester and I don’t know what the infection rates are in individual areas there.

“But in Sheffield we have identified what the issues are and we are acting deliberately, so there is not need for the Government to lock us down.

“If the Government ever does put us on its watch list for places at risk of lockdown it will not change our strategy.

“Our focus will remain on the accessibility of testing. The most important thing is that people with symptoms get tested and those who are told to self-isolate absolutely must do so. That is what really makes the difference.”

Today the Government announced that the easing of lockdown due to take place tomorrow would be postponed in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

Last night local lockdowns were also announced in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire in response to outbreaks in those areas,

The places that are on the PHE watch list are: Blackburn with Darwen, Leicester, Oldham, Bradford, Hyndburn (Lancashire), Rochdale, Pendle (Lancashire), Trafford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Manchester, Bolton, Burnley (Lancashire), Tameside, Stockport, Bury, Wigan, Rossendale, Oadby and Wigston (Leicestershire), Luton, Eden (Cumbria), Sandwell, Northampton (Northamptonshire), Peterborough, Rotherham and Wakefield.