Health chief reveals why South Yorkshire area has third highest Covid case rate in England
Rotherham now has England’s third highest Covid case rate and is one of just 18 places nationally where infections are rising.
There were 403 new cases during the week ending March 6 – the latest date for which reliable data is available – giving a weekly rate of 151.8 cases per 100,000 people.
That’s up slightly from 148.8 the previous week and is below only Derbyshire Dales and Hull, with Barnsley fifth in the table.
Ben Anderson, Rotherham’s director of public health, said: "We’re up there with quite a lot of other manufacturing towns at the top end of the table.
"In common with those towns, we have high numbers of people working at manufacturing or processing plants, or in construction, who obviously can’t work from home.”
In its attempt to curb transmission, Rotherham Council has previously leafletted areas with the highest infection rates, especially around the town centre, encouraging people there to get tested.
It also introduced its own supplementary grant scheme to ensure those on zero-hour contracts who don’t meet the Government criteria can still benefit from up to £500 if required to isolate.
Mr Anderson claimed both measures were making a difference, with around 80 people having accessed council grants, and said more direct messaging was planned in the worst-affected areas, including Maltby and Hellaby, where there have been ‘a few workplace outbreaks and a few in the community’.
Despite cases remaining high, he said the number of Covid patients in hospital had fallen to just over 40, from a peak of more than 160, and, as more people are vaccinated, the infection rate among over 60s had dropped to around 60.
He urged people to stick to the rules, which still only permit people to meet one other person outdoors, to ensure the roadmap out of lockdown is not derailed.
Although the Government says it has no plans to return to tiered restrictions, Mr Anderson warned that with a growing divide emerging between case rates in the south and the rest of England this was not out of the question.
“One of my colleagues described the situation as being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel but that light being a flickering candle at risk of going out, and I think that’s a good analogy,” he said.