Lincolnshire should take “whatever steps necessary” to tackle coronavirus — including putting the county into tier 4 lockdown after Christmas, according to a local health boss.
Assistant director of public health Tony McGinty said he expected a new variant of COVID-19, which is thought to be more infectious than its predecessor, will “become the dominant virus”.
Lincolnshire has yet to officially report instances of the new strain, but Mr McGinty said: “Given how common it is becoming, it’s unlikely it hasn’t arrived in the county.”
Although the new strain is not thought to be more deadly, he added that the speed at which it was spreading would put more pressure on already strained health and other critical services if it pushed infection rates even higher.
The Prime Minister on Saturday put much of the South and East of the country into a new, tougher tier 4 lockdown, and although Lincolnshire escaped and stayed in tier 3, Mr McGinty said it’s a “numbers game” over when the county will be placed into tier 4.
“We have to take additional steps to control that,” he said.
“Even though it doesn’t look like this new variant virus makes people more ill, just the pure numbers game means that if there’s hundreds or thousands more people getting it, then a proportion of those […] is going to push a lot more people into needing health care.
“On top of that a lot more people will have to isolate, and therefore not be able to work and keep services running, so it’s going to be really important to do what we can to slow down that new variant.”
The Lincolnshire infection rate is currently 222.8 per 100,000 people, compared to a UK average of 284.6.
With the UK numbers rising rapidly overall due to the new virus strain, it has pushed the county below the national average for a while.
Even Boston and Lincoln (once top of the table) have decreased, however, they still sit above the UK average at 369 and 343 respectively.
“I suspect now we will see the new variant virus become the dominant virus everywhere in the country, including in Lincolnshire, and therefore we will see a period of time where that variant starts to spread more quickly than we’ve been used to the current area.
“I suspect we’re going to be being asked by government to take more and stricter precautions, as we go into the second half of winter.”
Mr McGinty continued to push advice to start precautions now ahead of the Christmas Day relaxation of rules, including self-isolating if possible.
This was particularly important for anyone who may have travelled early from London following the tier 4 announcement. If someone has travelled and shows symptoms, they should get a test as soon as possible.