A RISE in coronavirus infections in Southampton poses a “huge threat” to the city, says a public health boss.
Dr Debbie Chase, the director of public health in Southampton, has urged residents to follow the rules and limit contact with other households to an absolute minimum.
It comes as she said that the number of cases in the city has grown rapidly over the past week, suggesting that the new strain of coronavirus is now circulating in the city.
Data released on December 8 revealed that the weekly rate of infection in Southampton was 62×100,000 people.
But in a statement Dr Chase said: “Cases of Covid-19 in Southampton are rising rapidly. The latest figures show that our weekly infection rate is 542.9 per 100,000 people. In the most recent seven days (to 27 December) there were 144 reported admissions and diagnoses in hospital of patients with Covid-19 at University Hospital Southampton, with extremely high pressure on ICU capacity. Such rapid growth in infections suggests that the new strain of the virus is present in Southampton. The new strain appears to pass from person to person even easier than before and this makes it a huge threat to our communities.”
Dr Chase called on everyone in the city to play their part in help stopping the spread of the virus.
She added: “We are now entering a crucial period with the rollout of vaccines and so we must do everything we can to protect our local NHS and the most vulnerable in our communities whilst this takes place. To do this we must all play our part by limiting our contact with other households to an absolute minimum.”
The news comes as England entered a third national lockdown yesterday following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening.
As reported, the new strain of Covid-19 is believed to be between 50% and 70% more transmissible than the original one.
Cllr Christopher Hammond, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “I don’t underestimate how difficult another lockdown will be for our residents and businesses. But the fact remains that cases and hospital admissions are going up fast and if we don’t act now our stretched NHS will reach breaking point. The only way we can protect the NHS and ensure it is able to help us when we need it, is to all play our part in preventing the spread of infection. We will be doing everything we can to help support the government in the roll out of vaccine and its ambitious new target for all priority groups to be vaccinated by the middle of February. But for now, We need to continue the community spirit and response which has served us well so far.”