One month lockdown may not be enough to tackle Covid rates, says Sheffield health chief

Sheffield's health chief fears a month long lockdown won't be enough to bring down coronavirus rates in the city.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 5th November 2020, 3:34 pm

Director of Public Health Greg Fell said it took an eight week lockdown in spring to suppress the infection with a complete closure of everything.

He told a meeting of full council that the R number is currently between 1.3 and 1.5 and the purpose of lockdown was to get it under one and bring cases down to the levels they were in May.

But he warned: "That's a tall task given where we are. Most infection is driven by household contacts and lockdown will make a difference to that.

Coronavirus update with Greg Fell - Director for Public Health Sheffield.

"It may reset expectations and behaviour but I saw some data which clearly said when Wales introduced some very restrictive interventions, it had a big effect initially, but then everybody got fed up and behaved as if it was all normal and inflation accelerated again.

"Measures currently in place have slowed spread significantly. In March, the doubling time of hospitalisation or deaths from new infections was four days, it's now 17 days, so the rate of spread is much lower.

"But lockdown will not in itself eradicate the virus and it's probably not long enough to significantly shift the curve down to mid May levels.

"When lockdown was first imposed it was two months before rates started to come back down significantly so arguably, one month will not be long enough. It is important that we're really clear about that.

"And this lockdown is less restrictive than in March as education has remained opened."

Mr Fell said there was no quick fix for the virus and people needed to change their behaviour in the long term.

"The releasing of lockdown led to more mixing with more individuals and this is a virus that spreads from human to human.

"The more individuals mix with each other, the more opportunity to accelerate the spread.

"We didn't adapt our behaviour to live with Covid, we expected to beat it and we haven't. We're not going to beat it for some considerable time to come.

"We will need to learn to adapt our behaviour in the long term and we've definitely become desensitised."

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