Coronavirus crisis: Optimism lockdown will end on time but "this isn't over yet"

  Posted: 23.02.21 at 10:56 by James Mayer, Local Democracy Reporter

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Lincolnshire health bosses are “very optimistic” that lockdown restrictions will be eased on time as there’s a “good chance” all four COVID precautionary tests will be met — but warned “this isn’t over yet”.

Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Andy Fox praised the government’s “intelligent” five-week gap in between each eased restriction, so that they can decide if freedoms needs pausing.

This comes as Monday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of the third lockdown which will start with schools opening on March 8 and non-essential shops open by April 12.

Four requirements for easing lockdown:

Vaccine deployment programme successful
Vaccines effective in reducing hospitalisation and deaths
Infections do not risk a surge that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
Assessments of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

Mr Fox said: “I think there’s a good chance that those four tests will be met and that the lockdown restrictions will be lifted at the times indicated. I’m very optimistic about that.”

He added: “The five-week gap is to allow them to understand the impact of the lifting of each date of restrictions […] and then to have a way to analyse that data, and then to make a decision whether or not they need to pause it. That gives them the ability to stop if it’s causing problems.”

He added: “I think that’s quite intelligent, because without that […] we could just find ourselves in a situation where incidents get out of control again, and nobody wants that.”

“This isn’t over yet. It’s great we’ve got a roadmap for getting out of lockdown, but we still have to make sure that at every stage we are following the lockdown restrictions.”

East Lindsey currently has the lowest infection rate in Greater Lincolnshire of 49.4 per 100,000 people.

Over 7,000 COVID-19 tests were carried out in the district in the last seven days, the second highest number of tests in Lincolnshire before North Kesteven which carried out 8,000 in the last week.

Mr Fox put this down to a “couple of factors”.
“One is that they have an ageing population, compared to other areas in Lincolnshire.

“We think those people are often very willing to just stay at home and to follow the lockdown measures […] but more importantly, you might just be starting to see the impact of vaccination coverage.”

Lincolnshire has seen 9,601 rapid lateral flow COVID tests taken so far, with 291 positive cases.

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