Posted: Tue, 12 Jan 2021 16:17
Chiefs across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland say the national lockdown has been brought in 'just in time' for our area – and it could be the last chance to prevent a catastrophic peak in cases.
Senior council, health and police figures have today called on local residents to do the right thing so that the lockdown works - and supports the efforts being made to roll-out the vaccine in the battle to defeat COVID-19.
Leads also set out messages around ensuring that vulnerable children, and those of critical workers, are able to get a place in our schools, if needed, as well as ensuring that children and staff are safe in their environment.
This call comes just seven weeks after their first united appearance last November where they made an unprecedented plea for people to drive down a local spike in rates.
Residents responded and rates did come down. But now, they're rising again and the national lockdown has been brought in just in time to help stem the tide of the new strain of COVID-19 which is being seen across the city, county and Rutland.
The prominent figures included the county council leader, Leicester's City Mayor, Leicestershire's assistant chief constable, a local GP and a director of children's services.
Cases in Leicestershire are now rising faster than the national average, having shot up by 62 per cent in the past seven days and stand at 374 per 100,000 people. In Leicester, the rate is 490 and in Rutland it is 242.
Crucially, this time, the pressure on the NHS is at a tipping point with hospital admissions well above what was seen during the first peak in April.
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: "We haven't seen the explosion in cases like they have in London yet – but it's just around the corner if we don't act now.
"The lockdown has come just in time – let's not waste it. Whatever the type of variant, the message remains the same – keep your distance, do your hand washing and wear a face covering."
City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, has issued a similar plea: "Leicester has been under some sort of restrictions for a long time, but with the virus spreading so rapidly, a tighter lockdown seems to be the only way to contain it.
"I would urge everyone to continue to follow the rules for as long as is necessary, to save lives and to give our health service time to deliver the vaccine to the most vulnerable in our community."
Mike Sandys, Leicestershire County Council director of public health, said: "The figures make it clear that we've seen rates rocket. And this rise is across all ages and particularly acute in Oadby, Wigston and Harborough.
"The new strain is now the dominant strain across the county and that's adding to existing pressures so people do need to stay at home or we'll be in real trouble.
"The hope is that the lockdown has come in fast enough to choke off the worst of the increase, but it will take a while for that to be reflected in the figures – rates will continue to rise over the next few days."
Leicestershire Police lead on the emergency response across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Assistant Chief Constable Kerry Smith said: "We know that this is a challenging time and for some it is increasingly difficult. Our teams will continue to engage with our communities but the messages have been very clear - stay in and stay safe.
"We need people to use common sense and take personal responsibility for keeping informed. You need to have a permitted reason to leave your house or you may face a fine.
"We will deal with those who blatantly ignore these rules as they are putting everyone's safety at further risk. Working together we can tackle this virus and keep our families safe."
Professor Aruna Garcea, a GP in Leicester representing the NHS clinical commissioning groups, has also stressed the importance of "everyone in the community" continuing in doing their bit to defeat COVID-19.
She said: "The vaccination programme is a huge leap forward in tackling the terrible impact of COVID-19 but it will take time to have an effect.
"We must continue to stay safe and protect each other by following the public health advice. We will do all we can to keep you well in the meantime."
People with symptoms are being urged to get a test. They must book an appointment by calling 119 or at www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test
Government advice on the national lockdown is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home