Covid Sheffield: Public health boss gives coronavirus infection rate update and warns against further lockdown
With Covid cases rising, Sheffield’s public health director Greg Fell has advised how Plan B can be avoided but “we all need to do it”.
The Covid infection rate in Sheffield on October 26 stood at 422.4 new cases per 100,000 people for the last seven days up to October 20.
In Greg Fell’s latest update, in which he has described the situation as ‘blackening a little bit’, he has addressed concerns regarding the rising infection rate among school children, waning immunity and the possible implementation of Plan B.
Mr Fell said: “Some say the rate of increase is settling. I think that’s a very, very, very optimistic interpretation, and I don’t subscribe to it. I think it will go up for a good bit longer yet actually.”
He told how the rate was ‘going up everywhere’ but particularly among secondary school age children, which is assumed to be due to this age group’s way of mixing and that many are not yet vaccinated.
Regarding waning immunity, Mr Fell explained: “The rise in older adults is the time between now and when people had their vaccination, so some people now had their vaccination 10 months ago and whilst the effectiveness of the vaccine has played out, in a way, hugely more positive than I dared hoped for, waning immunity is actually playing out more negatively than I hoped for as well.
“So we are seeing waning immunity in the over 60s – that translates into infections and it will also translate into some severe illness sadly.”
Although the rate is now the highest since January for those over 60, there is said to be decent immunity in middle age and younger adults.
However, there is concern over the growing numbers of patients in hospitals, which Mr Fell said were not necessarily Covid or flu related but respiratory cases.
He added: “Those things are hitting actually, and that’s a surprise, so we’re expecting continued pressure on the NHS and social care for some time to come.”
Mr Fell has encouraged people to get their flu jabs as he suspects flu will exacerbate pressures on health services.
He also encouraged those who had not received their Covid jabs to get vaccinated as “a significant number of hospitalisations for Covid are in the non-vaccinated”.
He told how waning immunity was an important factor to consider in explaining the current transmission rates, but highlighted that masks, more indoor mixing and large gatherings, are ‘also in the mix’.
Mr Fell said: “It’s definitely not over. Ask anyone who works in NHS and social care settings. They will tell you it’s not all over. Case rates are really high, serious illnesses are way higher than we would want it to be, and that is going to create a very difficult autumn and winter for lots and lots of people.”
Although the avoidance of Plan B is as he believes ‘in our own hands’, he assumes that if implemented, it will involve the encouragement of wearing face masks in enclosed public spaces, reducing contact, for example, working from home, and getting vaccinated.
Mr Fell said: “There's plenty that we can do but we all need to do it.”