East Riding currently ‘surfing a wave’ of coronavirus infections
East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s public health lead has said the local coronavirus situation is “manageable” despite rising numbers of cases.
The council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said the area was currently “surfing a wave” of coronavirus infections with more than 1,000 new cases recorded every week.
But the director added rising infections among children and young people following their return to school were driving increases and were “nothing” compared to what officials were bracing for.
It comes as 1,332 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the East Riding between Tuesday, September 21 and Monday, September 27, up from 1,021 in the previous week.
The rolling infection rate rose from 298 to 388 per 100,000 people during the same period.
The number of coronavirus patients in Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital was 49 on Thursday, September 30, down from averages of between 60 and 70 in recent months.
Mr Kingdom said the trends added up to a “complex picture” but the situation was “better” than he thought it would be at this stage.
He added the start of the vaccine booster programme and roll outs to 12 to 15-year-olds made him confident infections could be controlled as winter approaches.
Mr Kingdom said: “We’re currently riding a wave of rising coronavirus infections but it’s manageable if we can keep the numbers where they are or lower.
“The big question was whether pupils could go back to school without fuelling higher infection rates in the wider community and without serious disruption to their education.
“There has been some disruption but nothing compared to what we were worried about given schools no longer have lockdown measures, bubbles, or are requiring pupils to wear masks and distance.
“Most of the infections are in school age children, we were expecting that, the rolling rate for 11 to 16-year-olds is around 1,700 per 100,000 people.
“The previous concern was that big infection numbers among children would then mean coronavirus getting passed on to their parents and grandparents and ultimately the vulnerable.
“But those big numbers aren’t making their way through to the elderly and vulnerable, the infection rate for the 60 pluses has dropped, as has the number of coronavirus patients in hospital.
“It’s partly because we got the timing of the 16 to 17 year old roll out right.
“The vaccine programme has built a wall of protection around those who need it and that will get stronger as the booster and 12 to 15 roll out progresses.”
Mr Kingdom said officials were now shifting the focus of the vaccine campaign to booster jabs and those for 12 to 15 year olds to try and keep a lid on infections.
He added public health teams were currently finalising arrangements with schools which are set to be informed of them this week.
But Mr Kingdom also said “it’s not over yet” and that residents should consider carrying on following coronavirus guidance to stop patient numbers rising in hospitals.
The director said: “We’ll probably be surfing the wave until around half term, and the closer we get to half term the more confident I get.
“But whether this trend will continue is now entirely down to people’s behaviour.
“There’s also 35,000 people who’ve still not had their first jab, some of them vulnerable, so although our focus is shifting the vaccine offer remains for anyone who missed out before.
“We’re gradually moving from a pandemic to an endemic situation now, our approach is more about trying to live with coronavirus rather than responding to it all the time.
“But hospitals are still under immense pressure and that will continue into winter, they don’t need a doubling of the number of patients with coronavirus right now.
“There’s still potential for a spike, if people in the East Riding could do what they’ve done really well so far on following the guidance it could make the difference.”
Article by Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)