Nottinghamshire health chiefs say Covid rates ‘edging in the right direction’ but 'not racing down at the steep decline that we would like to see’

A Nottinghamshire health chief has described the past 12 months as one of ‘difficulty, challenge and tragic loss’ as the first anniversary of Britain being plunged into the first Covid-19 lockdown approaches.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:36 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 7:09 pm

It is a year on Tuesday that the Government introduced strict restrictions as part of it desperate battle to tackle the virus which has gone on to claim more than 125,000 lives across the country.

Now, ahead of the roadmap out of the third lockdown in 12 months, the county’s director of pubic health, Jonathan Gribbin, says the coming weeks will bring ‘hope and challenge’ for him and his colleagues.

He told a Covid briefing of journalists on Friday that the easing of restrictions and the vaccine roll-out provided ‘the hope’ while ‘the challenge’ was bringing case rates down – which he says are ‘edging in the right direction’ – but were ‘not racing down at the steep decline that we would like to see’.

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Jonathan Gribbin, director of public health for Nottinghamshire.

In fact, some areas – including Mansfield and Ashfield – continue to record rates higher than England’s average of 58.3 per 100,000.

The county rate is down to 79.1 per 100,000, with Ashfield at 71.1 and Mansfield 77.8.

Bassetlaw was the highest in Nottinghamshire at 111.5, while Newark and Sherwood has experienced a ‘small increase’ and its rate per 100,000 stands at 93.9.

The R rate is between 0.8 and 0.9, which reflects rates are moving down but ‘not moving down as fast as a week ago’.

Mr Gribbin said the county ‘has some unfinished business’ and the challenge is to get the ‘figures down further’ amid reports that some people are ‘relaxing measures too soon’.

He urged people to ‘only meet outside of the home and only with one other person from another household’, which continues to be the message nationally.

“Neither having the vaccine or a negative test should mean a relaxing of the measures,” he said. “Anyone doing so is putting the situation at some risk.”

Amanda Sullivan, accountable officer at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, told the briefing that ‘encouraging’ figures showed increasing declines in deaths and numbers of people in hospital – which remains fewer than April’s peak last year.

Meanwhile, a total of 405,078 vaccinations had taken place in the county – with 28,818 in the past week.

She apologised for Monday’s ‘error’ which saw people aged 40 and over invited to secure an appointment, although anyone who had booked a slot will be vaccinated.

Mr Gribbin said more community testing sites have opened in the county, including mobile units, but insisted ‘we are not of the woods yet’.

“The announcement of the road map is not the complete journey, we need to keep going with measures but neither having a vaccination nor a negative test result is grounds to drop our guard,” he said.

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