Health bosses in Lincolnshire are expecting cases of coronavirus to surge after July 19 – but don’t expect the country to return to lockdown rules in the winter.
Cases have spiked in recent weeks, with Greater Lincolnshire cases up to July 13 jumping by a further 50% after previously doubling week-on-week.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his government’s plans to go ahead with a planned easing of the final stages of lockdown – however, urged people to continue to wear masks indoors and businesses to bring staff back slowly and carefully.
Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Andy Fox said he was pleased to see the PM “urging caution”, adding that rates were still very high and climbing in the county.
“A significant change in people’s behaviours on the July 19 is likely to result in a further increase in acceleration in COVID-19 rates, which will in turn lead to an increase in hospitalisation and deaths.
“That increase is thought to be at a rate that the NHS can sustain, but I think it’s clear that none of us want to see more people dying of COVID-19 so it’s really important to remain cautious.”
He added: “COVID-19 is still out there and there is going to be more COVID around and circulating, perhaps, than there ever has been in terms of previous waves in Lincolnshire.
That’s already the case among certain age groups – for example the rates amongst people in their early 20s is already far higher than it’s ever been any other point in the pandemic.”
He urged people not to “suddenly” change behaviours but to proceed with care adding that he would still be wearing a mask indoors in crowded areas, and continuing to urge people to get both jabs.
However, he said there were “good reasons to be optimistic” that lockdowns would return later this year, including “extremely high” vaccination rates – which he hoped would reach around 90%-plus in all age categories – leading to a further 90% reduction in hospitalisations.
“There’s unlikely to be many voices in favour of going back into a full lockdown because it will be questionable what that would achieve in terms of preventing lockdown.
“There’s a really tricky decision government has to make – is it still worth being in a lockdown? Is it giving us what we need now? Or is the vaccine programme doing most of what we need?”