Sheffield's Covid rate 10th highest in England, as government considers return of local lockdowns
Sheffield’s Covid case rate has risen again and is now the 10th highest in England, new figures show.
The latest rise comes as a government minister today refused to rule out the reintroduction of local lockdowns due to the rapid spread of the Indian variant.
There were 297 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in Sheffield during the seven days to May 13 – the latest date for which reliable data is available – giving a weekly rate of 50.8 cases per 100,000 people.
That’s up from 265 cases and a rate of 45.3 during the previous week.
Sheffield’s case rate remains well below that of Bolton, which has risen from 133.9 to 282.0 in the space of a week to top the table of local authorities in England
Health secretary Matt Hancock yesterday said the Indian variant was now the dominant strain of the virus in Bolton as well as Blackburn and Darwen, but one in four local authorities across England had recorded five or more confirmed cases of the variant.
The Government has said the Indian variant could prevent the remaining lockdown restrictions being relaxed on June 21, as planned.
But if outbreaks are limited, ministers could opt instead to push ahead with the reopening while keeping some areas under restrictions in an echo of the controversial tiers system.
Cabinet minister George Eustice still wants the June 21 measures, which would see most remaining restrictions scrapped, to go ahead but said: “We can never rule out that there may have to be a delay.”
Asked whether it was possible for parts of the country to enjoy new freedoms on June 21 while others are kept under restrictions, Mr Eustice said: “That would be an option and we cannot rule anything out, obviously, at this stage.”
But he told Sky News the ‘preferred outcome’ would be to drive up vaccination rates in areas where there have been outbreaks.
Despite concerns the Indian variant is even more transmissible than the dominant Kent strain, the latest easing of lockdown restrictions went ahead as planned on Monday across most of England, Scotland and Wales.