December 15, 2020 10.55 am This story is over 41 months old

Lincolnshire COVID-19 “too volatile”, unlikely to come down a tier

Districts have too much variation

Local health bosses said Lincolnshire’s coronavirus numbers are “still very volatile” and do not expect the county to go down a tier in the government’s announcement on Wednesday.

Tony McGinty, the assistant director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council, said the numbers at a district level were changing rapidly.

He warned against having tiers at a district level for fear it might cause confusion.

“The big concern for me is the numbers are still very volatile, with districts going up and down quite sharply,” he said.

“If we ended up with variation between the districts we might find them changing around quite a lot over time […] and I don’t think that’s helpful to the public’s understanding of what the rules are and what they need to be doing.”

Greater Lincolnshire’s infection rate from Dec 7 to Dec 14. | Data: GOV UK / Table: The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire was placed into the toughest tier  3 restrictions, as England came out of the second lockdown on December 2.

Government bosses vowed to review the changes every two weeks — though it’s understood this may change to weekly in an upcoming announcement.

An announcement on Wednesday will reveal Lincolnshire’s future.

At the time, the government based its decision on five key factors. Below is the current situation in each one according to health bosses:

  1. Case detection rates in all age groups – Lincolnshire’s current seven day infection rate up to December 12 is 243.2 per 100,000. The England rate is 181 per 100,000.
  2. Case detection rates in the over 60s – Currently the rate for the over 60s in the county is 191.5 up to December 12, compared to 181 nationally.
  3. The rate at which cases are rising or falling – Mr McGinty said this was “patchy” across districts. Government reports were focussed on the previously high Boston and East Lindsey having decreasing trends along with South Kesteven and West Lindsey. However, North Kesteven and South Holland were showing an increase overall, but a decrease in those over 60.
  4. Positivity rate (positive cases as a percentage of tests taken) – Positivity rate for Lincolnshire is 9.7% with 21,441 tests carried out in the seven days to December 12 and 1,852 positive cases confirmed. Mr McGinty said this number had held steady for a period of time now.
  5. Pressure on the NHS – “The hospital trust has got some significant pressures at the moment,” said Mr McGinty, noting “serious” problems with maintaining staffing. He said it was “not in such a good position at the moment.”

Mr McGinty said if government made a decision at a county level it would be “unlikely” to go down a tier since numbers were significantly higher than the UK average.

“Whilst we saw some initial decline in those numbers that that decline has certainly slowed down, and in some of our districts we haven’t really had much of a decline at all,” he said.

“Hospitals remain under quite a lot of pressure from a combination of the staffing acts of COVID and the numbers of patients who are in hospital with COVID so, overall, it doesn’t feel to me like we’re looking at a situation where Lincolnshire is likely to change tier at this point.”