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Agenda item

Covid-19 Update

Update by the Director of Public Health

Minutes:

8.1

Greg Fell, the Director of Public Health, provided a Coronavirus (Covid-19) position statement.  It was noted that the reproduction rate is nationally 1.3 to 1.5; the average number of cases a day for Sheffield over the last 7 days is 289; the spread of the disease was different in different regions, with the highest rates in the North, but the South was catching up; and that there had been a huge impact on the return of students for university towns and cities like Sheffield. 

 

He stated that the rate of cases per 100,000 is falling from over 470 to around 400 in Sheffield; that the incidence of the disease is rising in all age groups; and the average age is now increasing again. He set out the position across the Sub-region and confirmed that the test positivity rate is 24%, having risen from 2% six weeks ago. He outlined issues with test result and contact tracing timeliness and highlighted that completeness is a concern.  He also noted with concern that additional pressures are now being put on hospitals, which are getting busier. 

 

He indicated that that further measures to control the spread of the virus are necessary and that the best way to protect vulnerable individuals and the economy is to keep community spread low.  The purpose of restriction is to limit social contacts.  Suppression doesn’t change the fundamentals and it should not detract from the basics:

 

• Testing, contact tracing, isolation – speed and depth.

• Management of incidents

• The choices 560,000 people make

• Supporting people to do the right thing

• Get a test if you have symptoms

• Stay at home if you have symptoms or test positive, or if asked to isolate.

• Limit social contacts – number and nature.

• Distance, hand wash, face covering

 

The Leader of the Council gave a statement on the announcement made that morning to move South Yorkshire in to Tier 3 lockdown measures.

 

She stated that last week the government clearly set out to the nation their new approach to managing the pandemic and growth in the virus across the country through the local regional tiered lockdown system. We have been in Tier 2 for just a week, however the government informed us that, due to the continued high level of cases across the region and increasingly concerning levels of hospital admission, it is now necessary to raise the alert level to very high and place the region in Tier 3.  This is supported by our Director of Public Health.

 

We accept that it was inevitable that certain extra restrictions needed to be considered and we agree that more needs to be done to tackle the growth of the virus. We are seeing cases rise across the country. In Sheffield and South Yorkshire, we have seen there is a growing and extremely concerning number of people in ICU beds and doing nothing was clearly not an option. 

 

As these restrictions are imposed people must be properly supported, especially when their place of work is closed down and they are not able to go to work and earn a living.  People should be given the same level of support as they were in the national lockdown to help them through these incredibly challenging times. We maintain that there should be a furlough scheme that matches what was provided before and it is important to remember that many of the jobs involved here are amongst the lowest paid. We asked for a funding package that would allow us to compensate for the failure of the national scheme that the government have put forward.  We asked for significantly greater financial support in addition to the national scheme that they have implemented. 

 

Whilst the government are providing extra funding, they are giving South Yorkshire a standard package of support which they are providing to the areas going into Tier 3 and this will not allow us to provide the support for people that is needed. We will continue to push government to provide enough support for people and businesses, as they are now placing us in these measures which will have such serious consequences for the people that are most impacted.  It is not too late to do the right thing to support people in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and in fact all the people across the country who are going into Tier 3 and I would plead with government to increase the levels of support they are providing for Tier 3.

 

Many people will be fearful of what is to come over the coming months, whether it be for the risk of the virus, their place of employment being closed or the impact on them or their loved ones of the restrictions. We can in Sheffield get through this, but we can only do it by pulling together. The government's approach at this moment in time will not bring about this togetherness, so we in Sheffield must show them how it's done.  We will continue to fight for our citizens and our business in Sheffield. I know the spirit of Sheffield will get us through.

 

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