Will there be another lockdown this Christmas? Covid cases in Sheffield rise above level this time last year
As predicted by health officials, the number of Covid-19 cases in Sheffield is rising steadily as the colder months set in.
And the rate has been steadily increasing since October 6, when it was 330.1 per 100,000.
Last year, on October 23, the infection rate in Sheffield was 415 per 100,000, and the country was heading for its second lockdown, which would last into the new year.
The current infection rates have led to calls from medical professionals across the UK for the Government to impose tighter restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, and therefore reduce the number of people hospitalised as a result of Covid.
What can we do to avoid another lockdown?
Sheffield’s public health director Greg Fell has said that it is essential people are still as careful about Covid-19 as they were this time last year, if we are to avoid more stringent anti-Covid measures such as lockdowns needing to be put into place.
Mr Fell said: “The tune has not changed. Get vaccinated if you have not. Wear a mask indoors if you can.
"If you have symtoms that you think might be Covid, get a PCR test and act appropriately on the result of that test.
"And be careful about mixing with vulnerable people. These are not new messages, I wish they were, but they are needed.”
Why are we not in lockdown already?
Mr Fell added that if it was not for the vaccination programme, we would alredy be in another lockdown.
He said: “One year ago we would have been in full lockdown with this infection rate and these figures.
“The vaccine programme is the thing that made all the difference. The rate is high and some people are ill or in hospital but it is nothing like the same as it was in the past. It is in a completely different league thanks to the vaccine.”
In Parliament, the Government has been discussing its ‘Plan B’ strategy for preventing the spread of Covid-19 this autumn and winter, which could see mask wearing made mandatory again, but does not reference another lockdown.
Ministers have denied the existence of a ‘Plan C’, which the Daily Telegraph reported could mean mixing between hosueholds is banned over the Christmas period.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that Plan B will not be implemented until the NHS is under ‘unsustainable pressure’ – something he says has not happened yet, although doctors have widely disagreed.
What has Boris Johnson said about another lockdown?
And Boris Johnson is continuing to resist calls from health leaders for tighter Covid restrictions despite the rising levels of infections.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the numbers were “high” but said they were “within the parameters” forecast by scientists advising the Government.
His comments followed calls from the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association (BMA) for ministers to activate their winter Plan B for England amid fears the health service could be overwhelmed.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the refusal to introduce supplementary measures – including Covid passports, mask-wearing in crowded public spaces and a return to working from home – amounted to “wilful negligence”.