Caution urged over lifting of Covid social distancing rules after new cases double within a week

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s public health lead has called for caution over the lifting of coronavirus social distancing rules after new cases more than doubled in a week.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 3:17 pm
East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s public health director Andy Kingdom.

Public health director Andy Kingdom said most new local coronavirus cases were linked to 17 to 25 years olds, with rates rising as they mixed more.

He added residents should continue to be cautious and consider sticking to mask wearing, social distancing and other measures even after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced they would be scrapped.

It comes as the number of new coronavirus cases recorded in the East Riding was 502 from Wednesday, June 22 to Tuesday, June 29, up from 207 the previous week.

The East Riding’s seven day rolling rate was 147 per 100,000 people, increasing from 61 per 100,000 during the same period.

It also comes as Mr Johnson announced that mask wearing and one metre social distancing rules would no longer be legally enforced from Monday, July 19.

All businesses still closed will be allowed to reopen and limits on the amount of people meeting in and outdoors are also set to be scrapped.

Mr Kingdom said the East Riding’s rate remained lower than Yorkshire and Humber’s 381 and England’s 206.

But he added spikes in the East Riding were unevenly spread, reaching rates as high as 570.2 in Brough with similar ones recorded in villages and towns west of Hull.

The director also said that the rate among 17 to 25 year olds was closer to 700 and for 11-16s was around 200.

Mr Kingdom said: “Both new cases and our rate have more than doubled, we’ve seen numbers go up significantly in the last couple of weeks close to what they were in January.

“The difference between the young and old is massive, its burning through the 20 somethings and that’s what we’re seeing nationally as well.

“But we haven’t seen any increase in hospitalisation or deaths, we’ve still got around five or six coronavirus patients in Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital and one new patient every few days admitted, if that.

“The hospital numbers haven’t changed because of the vaccine which appears to be about 92 per cent effective in protecting people.

“Including the vaccine we’ve so far had three things stopping increases like this, the other two being our behaviour and the restrictions.

“But those things which are small on their own only work when they’re put together and now we’re taking them away.

“Behaviour has changed most among the young, they’re mixing more and we’re seeing the effects of people gathering for the Euros, that’s probably pushing the numbers up quite a bit.

“We’ve also seen an increase among school pupils which is why some East Riding schools’ year group bubbles had to close recently.”

Mr Kingdom said the Delta variant of coronavirus was now “absolutely the most dominant” one in the East Riding, accounting for at least 90 per cent of cases.

He added vaccination totals were currently “really good”, with 253,000 first doses, 87 per cent of those eligible, and 203,000 second, or 70 per cent.

But the director said because of the timing of younger people being invited, rates were much lower among them just as they were mixing more.

Mr Kingdom said: “We’ve put all the emphasis on the vaccination now, I would urge anyone eligible to go and get one as soon as they can.

“I’d also be thinking about carrying on with masks on public transport or in crowded places even after the restrictions are lifted.

“The vaccine is like the mask in that its less about protecting yourself and more about protecting those around you, it’s about stopping the virus spreading to the most vulnerable.

“There will be people who need people but are still going out, those with underlying health conditions or undergoing treatment for things like cancer whose immune systems are much weaker.

“The longer the rollout takes the more chance there is of new variants emerging, some which could evolve to get around it.

“So we need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible, not just here but across the world.”