Covid cases in Hertfordshire plateauing not falling says health boss

He also said that case rates were ‘significantly higher than they had been for some time'

Friday, 12th November 2021, 4:32 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 4:34 pm

Hertfordshire public health chief Jim McManus has stressed that the number of Covid-19 cases in the county is NOT falling – despite suggestions that they may be falling nationally.

There have been some media reports that while European countries – such as Germany and the Netherlands – have seen steep rises in the number of cases, the number of cases in the UK are falling.

But at a meeting of the public health and community safety cabinet panel on Friday (November 12) Mr McManus warned that this was not the case in Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire public health chief Jim McManus has stressed that the number of Covid-19 cases in the county is not falling

He pointed to ‘plateauing’ case rates in Hertfordshire that were ‘not falling’ – and that were ‘significantly higher than they had been for some time’.

He pointed to the increasing rates of ICU admission for Covid-19 patients in the county, to increasing use of mechanical ventilation beds and to death rates.

And he said any suggestion that ‘herd immunity’ had been reached – either in the county’s population or schools – was not supported by the data.

“It is not appropriate to conclude that we have reached an overall substantial decline in cases – it could go back up again,” he said.

At the meeting, education and leisure settings were said to be the most common sources of exposure to the virus.

And it was reported that cases continue to be highest amongst school children – with the highest rates amongst 12 – 16-year-olds.

Before the half-term break case rates in school-age children in some parts of Hertfordshire were said to be amongst the highest in the country.

And although rates have dropped from a high that was in excess of 1,800 before half-term, they are still said to be ‘very high’ – with more than 900 cases per 100k and rising numbers of ‘outbreaks’ in educational settings.

By Friday morning (November 12) there were reported to have been 211 confirmed outbreaks at educational settings within the week – including at 114 primaries, 49 secondaries, 14 special and 10 independent schools.

And some schools are already implementing additional measures such as ventilation, enhanced testing, vaccination coverage and face coverings in certain settings

“This virus has not run its course,” stressed Mr McManus.

“Nor have we reached herd immunity in schools or anything like it – and indeed nor have we seen an end to infection circulating.”

Mr McManus reported that vaccine uptake among 12-15-year-olds was running at around 44 per cent.

And he said: “Although we are doing reasonably well we do need to do better and we are working on that.

Mr McManus also pointed to evidence of transmission from infected children to other members of the community.

“We know from previous experience that rises in infections of younger age groups can – and do – spread into older age groups,” he said.

“Our hospital admissions are increasing and we have clear evidence of transmission from infected children into the rest of the community and older adults – and vice versa.

“It is not that the schools are the source of infection, it is that infection is widespread in the community and is using every opportunity.

“We mustn’t blame any individual setting – this is what viruses do.”

Nevertheless, Mr McManus said that despite recent increases, there had been a ‘massive reduction’ in deaths compared to the rates recorded in previous peaks.

“We have seen a massive decline in deaths,” said Mr McManus. “Sadly and tragically people are still dying […] with Covid.

“It is much fewer in number than the losses we have seen hitherto – and obviously we hope to drive that down further. That is welcome news.”

Mr McManus also welcomed the rates of vaccine uptake across the county.