Coronavirus: Stark warning by Cambridgeshire health chief

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire. - Credit: Archant

A stark warning to enjoy a happy but safe Christmas has been issued by Cambridgeshire’s director of public health.  

Dr Liz Robin warned that coronavirus infection rates have nearly doubled in Cambridgeshire in the past week, with the most rapid increases seen in South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.  

“There is hope for the future as we now have a safe and effective vaccine which is being rolled out nationally,” she said.  

“But it will take until at least March for enough people to have been vaccinated to protect the vulnerable in our community and reduce pressures on the NHS.  

“Until then we must all comply with government restrictions and support each other to keep our infection levels down and make sure that by Christmas 2021 things look very different.”  

She added: “I would recommend that even in Cambridgeshire, which is currently in Tier 2, and people are allowed to form a Christmas bubble for one day on December 25, that they think very carefully before doing so.”  

She said that it is thought that rapidly increasing levels of infection in Peterborough after the end of the November lockdown may be associated with the new variant of the disease which is also being seen across London, and the East and South East of England.  

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Dr Robin said: “The new variant is up to 70 per cent easier to catch, and this may have contributed to the increases seen in Peterborough and also elsewhere. “However, there is currently no evidence that the virus leads to worse outcomes than other variants.   

“This means that all of the new Tier 4 restrictions placed on Peterborough and elsewhere in England, and the changes to rules about Christmas mixing elsewhere, are aimed to achieve just one thing.  

“That is to reduce people’s contact with anyone outside their household /support bubble to the absolute minimum, as it is contact with other people which spreads the virus. 

“It’s also important to be even more rigorous about observing the ‘hands, face, space' rules that we are all familiar with and to keep rooms well ventilated.  

“The same Covid-19 prevention measures will work against all variants of the virus, but we need to be even more rigorous in how we apply them.  

“In Peterborough, because it is a tier 4 area, the rules don’t change even on Christmas Day – so people are no longer allowed to form a Christmas bubble and mix indoors with family and friends they don’t live with.  

“We appreciate that this will be very difficult for some people, and there is support for those who may be lonely or isolated, or who suddenly need very practical support– and I would encourage them to phone the countywide co-ordination hub on 0345 045 5219.  

For anyone whose mental health is being more severely impacted, there is the Lifeline support number 0808 808 2121 which operates daily from 11am to 11pm and for people with a mental health crisis you can phone the NHS 111 number and ask for Option 2.”