South Tyneside public health chief issues 'play your part' plea to tackle rocketing Covid rates
South Tyneside’s public health chief has urged everyone to “play their part” as Covid rates continue to surge across the borough.
Tom Hall, director of public health at South Tyneside Council, made the plea after the borough’s case rates rose to 426.1 per 100,000 people, compared to less than 300 at the start of October.
Mr Hall said: "The warning from Sajid Javid that the UK could see 100,000 cases of Covid a day is concerning, given the current pressure the NHS and care system is facing right now due to winter illnesses, backlog of work because of the pandemic, and staff pressures directly and indirectly caused by Covid.
"The message is clear. If we want make sure the NHS and care system is not overwhelmed this winter, then we must all play our part to control the spread of the virus.
"The single most important thing we can all do is get vaccinated, whether that be first, second or booster jabs. Each jab offers a layer of protection so please get the vaccine when offered and do so as quickly as possible. Please do get your flu jab if offered too.”
Mr Hall made the plea as the ministers come under increasing pressure after the British Medical Association accused the Government of being ‘wilfully negligent’ for not reimposing rules such as mandatory face masks.
The Labour Party has also called for the implementation of the winter ‘Plan B’, which would see masks become mandatory in certain public settings, Covid passports introduced for social activities and a return to a work-from-home directive.
However Mr Hall has urged people to manage their own behaviour to help bring infection rates down.
He added: "Covid has not gone away and I would urge people to continue to be cautious and considerate of others. Please keep hand washing thoroughly and regularly, socially distancing from people outside of your home, using face coverings in public places and on public transport, and ensure good ventilation when you are in an enclosed space with others."
The Government has responded to pressure by saying it’s focusing on its plan to ramp up the vaccine booster programme and widening the availability of jabs to secondary school pupils.
Ministers have repeated the stance case rates, hospitalisations and deaths are not yet at the level where the introduction of Plan B is necessary.
During a Covid briefing on October 20, Health Secretary Sajid Javid acknowledged there was significant pressure on the NHS, but emphasised it was “not yet unsustainable" – the much publicised trigger point of concern for restrictions to be reimposed.
Mr Hall’s plea follows on from a growing number of South Shields residents calling for the reintroduction of Covid restrictions.
Retail worker Jane Grey, 52, said: “I’ve just finished my isolation after having Covid. A lot of people think it’s just like a bad cold but I’ve been double jabbed and still got it. I was really sick – at one point I was coughing up blood. I think measures like mask wearing should be reintroduced to help get cases down.”
However other people who spoke to the Gazette were against the idea, saying it was time to “accept living with Covid” and that people were “fed up with restrictions” and were likely to ignore any reintroduced measures.