Should you go back to work? Sheffield health chief warns against it over fears of spike in cases among younger people

Sheffield’s director of public health has warned that people should avoid going back into the workplace if they can due to fears that it would lead to spikes in infectious variants of Covid among younger people.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 4:06 pm
Greg Fell

Greg Fell gave the warning in his weekly update on Covid, in which he said the city was making progress against the virus, however infection rates were still double the national average.

And he added that as the city opens up, more young people are expected to get Covid.

Mr Fell said: "I think we’re going to see a rise in rates in the under 45s and the under 35s.

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“If you don’t need to be in work, then you don’t need to be in work. We will see workplace outbreaks and that will become an issue for business continuity for all of our workplaces.

“Our seven day rate is double the national average. Nationally the rates are well below 20 per 100,000. In Sheffield it is hoevering around 40 to 45.

"It’s now flat and I think that is because of the unpicking of the lockdown because we are out and about more therefore there will be a bit more infection, there’ll be an inevitable increase going forward.

“Younger adults will no be vaccinated en-masse soon and the virus can still harm younger people so we remain cautious about that.

“When we were locked down the coverage of the Kent variant was 50 per cent. Now we’ve opened back up it is 100 per cent, so we will see the full impact of the Kent variant there’s no two ways about that.”

In spite of this, Mr Fell was still confident Sheffield would continue to come out of lockdown measures in line with the rest of the country.

“I’m confident Sheffield will continue to strike the right balance between keeping people safe and keeping transmissions low and kickstarting Sheffield,” he said.

“Biggest risk looking forward? Variants; people being balanced and acting safely but also people being blase; and vaccine confidence and coverage, particularly in younger adults, will be an issue.

“Vaccination coverage is really high in the over 50s. Next up vaccination wise is younger adults so we’ll be vaccinating people belowe the age of 50, below the age of 40 and eventually from 20 plus.

“It’s really important that we all take up the offer when offered. The importance of vaccination in younger adults is that it keeps transmission low, therefore enables us to keep Sheffield open and keep going.

“On the medium term people ask me about what will happen in the future. There’ll inevitably be an increase in rates as we shift from step 2 to step 3 of the roadmap. And probably another increase in rates as we shift from step 3 to step 4.

“We will focus on what keeps transmission low because we want to keep Sheffield open. Nobody wants to go back to any form of lockdown so we should all focus on ‘just because I can doesn’t mean I should’.”