Covid-19: Lincolnshire health boss “wouldn’t be surprised” if the unlock deadline was extended

Health bosses in Lincolnshire are cautious over a third wave nationally, but say the county is staying consistently low right now.
Derek Ward, Director of Public Health, Lincolnshire EMN-210206-140426001Derek Ward, Director of Public Health, Lincolnshire EMN-210206-140426001
Derek Ward, Director of Public Health, Lincolnshire EMN-210206-140426001

Scientists advising government have urged the planned unlocking on June 21 to be delayed due to a surge of Indian variant cases in other areas of the country.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor Derek Ward said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the deadline was extended as chief medical officers examine the overall numbers and give clearer data.

He said if a delay were to take place, the vast majority would not see any change, but that it would be the “prudent” thing to do.

“What I would not want to do is to go that final stage four, take away the vast majority of restrictions, and then see a really big increase in cases that leads to an increase in hospital admissions and potentially deaths.

“That would be a tragedy at this stage, something we want to avoid and obviously the knock on of something like that would be we may have to go backwards rather than go forwards.”

He understood people may have plans, such as weddings, but that by the second week of July “we’ll know very clearly, whether the rates are showing that we’re into a third wave on whether that third wave is across the entire country, or whether it’s only in particular areas”.

According to the latest figures, Linconshire’s infection rate per 100,000 was 21, while England was 27 with the national rate driven by the Indian variant.

Lincolnshire has remained “pretty consistent” for the past two months, with the rate sitting between 20-25 per 100,000 – around 100-150 new cases per week.

The Indian variant has also yet to become the dominant strain in Lincolnshire.

A third of the 160 cases up to May 26 were recently tested with the majority (59 out of 61) being the Kent variant.

Professor Ward praised the vaccine programme for helping to supress transmission, with more than three quarters having now had their first dose and nearly half the eligible population having their second.

He urged people to continue getting the vaccine as soon as they were able in order to keep the numbers down.