Sheffield could return to tier three after lockdown, says city’s health chief

National lockdown measures will be eased slowly and Sheffield could return to tier three afterwards, the city’s health chief has said.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 12:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th February 2021, 12:16 pm

Director of Public Health Greg Fell said it was unrealistic to expect there to be “zero Covid” and a number of targets needed to be met before what he called the “end game”.

He told a council meeting: “I think measures will be relaxed gently and slowly, probably in mid to late spring, and that enables us to see what happens when each of the individual measures is taken off.

“Lockdown is having a downward impact so I’m guessing we will end up in some form of tiering system after it has ended.

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Sheffield Public Health Director, Greg Fell

“I think tier three is enough to hold the level of circulating virus in check and for it to reduce slowly over a long period of time, admittedly still at a level that causes harm to people.

“If we go down to tier two or tier one everyone thinks it’s all over and they can go out and go back to the pub and that just leads very quickly to a circulating virus again which is problematic.

“I think we will still be having some form of restrictions until spring and I wouldn’t predict beyond that.”

Mr Fell said next winter would be “problematic” and the end game was “some way off”.

“We all want zero Covid but it’s unrealistic. We’ve had an effective vaccine for polio for the past 40 years and it’s still not fully eradicated.

“I do think getting to very low levels of circulating virus is valuable and we should aim for that.

“The three criteria that I hold true for the end game is when the R rate is well below one, not hovering just below.

“Secondly, when the community transmission rate is something akin to last summer, where the range was in the order of 20 to 30 per 100,000, we’re much higher than that now.

“And thirdly, when we’ve got a well vaccinated population. That will happen quite soon but the other two we need to keep working on.”

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