South Africa variant ‘not in Sheffield’ as health chief issues warning over Covid patients

Sheffield's health chief says patients in critical care with Covid are ‘younger than you might imagine’, with many aged 45-65 battling the virus.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 8:29 am

In his latest weekly update, Greg Fell, the city’s public health director, warned that although the infection rate is falling and hospitals are probably past the peak of the latest wave, the ‘room for manoeuvre remains pretty small’.

"The cohorts in critical care are younger than you might imagine, so there’s a significant number of people aged 45-65 in critical care,” he said.

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Members of medical staff wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including face masks, aprons and gloves as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"So anyone who thinks this is only an illness of the very elderly is mistaken. It’s a disease that can affect younger people as well and affects younger people really quite seriously.”

Mr Fell revealed that the Kent variant of the virus accounts for 70 per cent of cases being detected in Sheffield and because it is more transmissible ‘our level of vigilance becomes even more important’.

He said there were two other variants of concern, from South Africa and Brazil, and to his knowledge neither was in Sheffield at the moment but ‘that might not last forever’.

Looking ahead he said he expects to see a ‘very gradual easing of restrictions’ this spring but restrictions will remain in place for ‘some time to come’.

He added that he expects this summer to be similar to last summer, though he said it is possible there will be another surge next autumn into winter.

The latest figures show that during the week ending February 5, there were 1,019 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Sheffield, giving a weekly infection rate of 174.2 – down from 230.7 the previous week.