Sheffield's Covid infection rate rises again - but 'encouraging signs' vaccines are working

Sheffield’s Covid infection rate has risen again but the city’s health chief says there are ‘encouraging signs’ the vaccines are making a difference.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 8:31 am

Another 788 people tested positive for coronavirus during the seven days to February 21 – the latest date for which reliable figures are available – giving a weekly rate of 134.7 new cases per 100,000 people.

That’s up from 695 cases and a rate of 118.8 during the previous seven days.

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Pepple walk past a display featuring health advice in the shopping district in central Sheffield (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Sheffield was one of 69 local authorities out of 315 across England to record a rise in case rates, based on the new statistics, with nearly 80 per cent seeing a weekly fall.

Case rates in Barnsley (178.6), Doncaster (180.2) and Rotherham (188.0) are all now in the top 50 nationally, with the rate in Barnsley having risen slightly but the others recording a fall.

Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell, said that, having fallen, the case rate was now ‘beginning to plateau’ but not among all age groups.

“The rates continue to fall in the elderly, which is obviously great news as that’s the group which are most likely to become seriously ill,” he said.

"There are encouraging signs with the case rate in the elderly after the vaccination.

“Of course, the lockdown is having an impact on case rates, no doubt about that, and the elderly are the most cautious and most likely to be at home so that will also have a bearing.

"But increasingly, both nationally and beginning locally, there are lots of encouraging signs of the evidence beginning to stack in the way that was expected that being vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of serious illness and death, and obviously that’s good news for all sorts of reasons.

"Further good news is that the vaccination seems to reduce transmission and, again, that was one of the uncertainties a month ago. We plain didn’t know that.”

Despite the encouraging news, Mr Fell added that it was important that people continue to take steps to prevent transmission, especially given the risks of long-Covid, which he said is ‘not something I would wish on anybody’, and of new mutations.