‘There is still a long way to go’ – Sheffield health boss issues warning as Covid rates rise again

Sheffield’s coronavirus rates are once again rising in another sign that the city is still a long way from beating Covid-19.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:17 pm

In his latest weekly coronavirus ‘position statement’, Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell revealed that the rates in the city had gone back above 100 per 100,000 in the seven days to March 18.

Mr Fell said that the rise in rates was most likely down to schools going back and an increase in testing, as well as more people returning to work having been relieved of childcare responsibilities.

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A member of the ambulance service wearing personal protective equipment. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

But he added that the rising rates underscored the importance of people following the rules on social mixing and continuing to follow guidance on mask-wearing and hand-washing.

He said: “This is happening in lots of parts of the country and Sheffield is obviously no exception. It is principally driven by school age and working age and that was always predicted to happen once schools got fully back.

"Some of those of working age clearly have always been out and about and able to interact with others and some more are now out and about beacuse their kids are back at school.

"We’re doing a lot of testing, asymptomatically, particularly around schools. Last week, in the North East and Yorkshire, a million tests were done and if we look, we find, and rates go up.

Greg Fell, director of public health for Sheffield City Council.

"Importantly, the over 65s rate is stable to going down reasonably quickly and the harm, as measured by the number of people in a hospital bed, is going down and that’s definitely the impact of the vaccine.

"So it’s uncertain how all of that plays out in the medium term. Clearly rates are going up in Europe which isn’t as well vaccinated a population as this country but there is still a long way to go even in this country with over 60s vaccination.

"We’re still on track with regard to the roadmap and we’re still right to carefully reopen but we won’t be relaxing some of the individual level measures – washing hands and face coverings etc – probably for some time to come.

"If you have symptoms, get a test – and remember we are still in lockdown so all of the guidance in place around social mixing is still in place.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.