January 20, 2022 5.30 pm

Lincolnshire health bosses urge caution as COVID Plan B measures scrapped

“Evidence suggests rates have not been going down everywhere at the same time”

Health bosses in Lincolnshire have urged people to be cautious over the next few weeks as the government looks to scrap COVID Plan B measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that restrictions such as working from home, face coverings and COVID pass requirements would be coming to an end next week amid decreasing cases.

Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Andy Fox told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that in terms of trying to move towards a place without restrictions it was “good news”.

However, he said: “The questions are around what’s likely to happen over the next few weeks as a result of it and actually there’s plenty of evidence to suggest rates have not been going down everywhere at the same time.”

He said in Lincolnshire in particular there were still high rates in children, especially of primary age.

But he said it was a mixed picture and there had been “a couple” of days recently when there had been no patients in intensive care.

He said that although overall infection rates had decreased to somewhere around the 900 per 100,000 mark and continued to be below the England average, they were still way above the heights of previous waves which reached the 500 per 100,000 mark.

He said a suggestion that social distancing measures could also be scrapped in March depended entirely on numbers.

But he acknowledged there was now a “really high level” of background immunity from both the vaccination programme and from prior infections.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking on Wednesday.

“[The government] need to get to a point where they do remove all restrictions at some point, so really, it becomes a question about timing,” said Mr Fox.

“It’s always going to be a political decision to balance the various different risks, but in principle, it’s a place we want to get to now so we just need to make sure that we’re all being cautious and careful if we can to to mitigate any of the risks.”

He said previous waves of Alpha, Delta and the latest Omicron wave had shown that it “seems to be tied to literally people’s behaviours and what people are doing”.

“People do seem to be still limiting the amount of contact that they’ve got and that seems to have brought things down quite fast.

“It’s really clear that the choices that people make now can have a big impact upon where we go with the pandemic.”