Sheffield health chief issues warning over new variants after Indian strain found in Manchester

Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell has warned that new variants of Covid are the primary concern as lockdown eases, after cases of the Indian strain of the disease were reported in Manchester.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:08 pm

Giving his weekly update on the Sheffield’s progress with the virus, Mr Fell said that while the new variants were not currently a cause for concern, the potential that they could be brought into the city was a worry.

He said: “The assessment of risk is not fundamentally changed by variants of concern. Currently there are no concerns, but that may change and that’s the thing we need to worry about.

“Hence, if you are travelling overseas at some point in the near future, the potential for bringing back into the UK variants of concern is the key risk that we worry about.”

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NHS nurses wait for the next patient at a drive through Coronavirus testing site in a car park (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Mr Fell said that Sheffield remains on track with lockdown easing and the spread of the virus is reducing as expected in the city.

“The overall seven day rate is now just less than 50 per 100,000 and falling pretty quickly actually,” he said. “A week or two ago it was more than 100 per 100,000.

“The over 60s rate continues to fall [and] the number of people being hospitalised, or people being diagnosed with Covid in hospital, is very very low and is actually constant.

“Hospital activity with Covid is, again, very low at currently less than two per cent. A couple of months ago it was 25 per cent, so you can see that we are in a very different position now.

“Vaccine deployment continues successfully, there are no concerns there, and the the evidence show that the vaccines are reducing hospitalisations and deaths. Infection rates are not risking a surge in hospitalisation.”

Mr Fell also sought to reassure younger adults that they could receive the Moderna vaccine, following concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine can cause clotting among 18-29 year olds.

He said: “More than 20 sites are now using the newest vaccine available to us – the Moderna vaccine – and that includes Sheffield Arena.

“For those aged 18-29 who are eligible for the jab the Moderna vaccine provides an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine and that’s what we’re recommending younger adults have.”