"Long journey to life without restrictions," says Sheffield health boss as he issues warning about new variants

Sheffield’s health leader says he is expecting concerning new Covid-19 variants to arrive in the city shortly.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 4:45 pm

Greg Fell, director of public health, said it was a matter of when, not if variants first recorded in South Africa and Brazil were found in Sheffield.

He spoke about this during a recent Sheffield Council cabinet meeting.

Mr Fell said: “The B117 variant is the dominant strain. In Sheffield about 75 percent of all cases are B117, it is definitively more transmissible, that will have and upward impact on the seven-day infection rate. It’s difficult to know where that will settle.

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Sheffield Public Health Director, Greg Fell

“There is some evidence that it is more serious in terms of the individuals infected, there is not robust data but certainly enough to give us pause for thought.

“The control measures are exactly the same, the issue is lapses and the need to be vigilant.

“There are two other significant variants of concern. One is the South Africa variant, one is the Brazil variant – neither of which are in Sheffield that we know of at the moment. That is probably a matter of when, not if and both of those are of significant concern.

“Neither are thought to be particularly more dangerous to individuals but the point is that antibodies from either the vaccination or from prior infection with a previous virus might not protect us as well, which is why they are both of concern.”

He also said case rates and hospital activity were falling but warned of still a long journey towards returning to life without restrictions.

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