Blunt plea for Northamptonshire residents to stop breaking lockdown rules as people die at alarming rate

'I think there are are a few that are spoiling it for the many'

By Jack Duggan
Friday, 15th January 2021, 5:35 pm
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 5:38 pm

People in Northamptonshire who continue to disobey the coronavirus lockdown rules have been pleaded with to stop as others continue to die at an alarming rate.

The third lockdown has had a marginal impact so far on record case numbers but hospital admissions and fatalities are rising fast, the weekly press conference heard today (Friday, January 15).

Northampton and Kettering hospitals are working overtime to deal with the challenging numbers of Covid and non-Covid patients being admitted while having to put up with pandemic deniers and restriction abusers.

People in Northamptonshire must stick to the lockdown rules to stop more from dying of coronavirus, public health bosses have urged. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile police are issuing far more fines for people breaking the coronavirus laws and most positive cases are still coming from households mixing illegally.

Northamptonshire County Council director for public health Lucy Wightman was close to swearing as she called on the minority of people who are not listening to change their behaviour, rather than tighten the lockdown.

"Fundamentally, if I can be really blunt, if people just did as they were told then we wouldn't need further restrictions and I think there are are a few that are spoiling it for the many," she said.

"If we actually understood the impact, if we could go into the hospital or see what the police see around non-compliance, and recognise that people are knowingly going against rules that are there to protect people, that is tantamount to being criminal.

"They just need to stop - the sooner we get compliance, the sooner we get our rates down and the sooner we get back to some sense of normality.

"It's deeply frustrating as this is not about bringing in more rules and regulations, I don't believe, it's about people doing what they should."

A total of 4,604 Northamptonshire residents tested positive for coronavirus in the week of January 4 - almost identical to the week before and double the previous month.

Ms Wightman was concerned the lockdown was not having the effect on cases they would expect, which may be down to the more-transmissible new variant of the virus.

Northamptonshire's infection rate is now higher than the English average, with Corby and Northampton's rate significantly greater.

In the same week, 55 Covid-positive patients died across the county and up to 40 per cent of hospital beds are occupied by those with the virus.

Hospitals chief executive Deborah Needham said they are looking after twice as many patients as during the first wave of the pandemic.

She admitted she is worried about the mental health of her tired employees but paid tribute to their hard work as positivity, while repeating the appeal for compliance.

"It can be really upsetting for staff who are working so hard, every single day, to constantly hear claims that this pandemic is not real," she said.

"If I could let people into this hospital, I absolutely would to see it's real. People are saying our staff aren't busy and there are empty areas, that's not true at all.

"I think what's keeping staff going is the fact that the majority of the public know that we are doing to keep everybody safe.

"Also our staff know the majority of the public are sticking to the rules and that's important to them to keep them going through this pandemic."

Northamptonshire Police officers have been increasing their enforcement as a result of more people breaking the rules.

Supt Elliot Foskett said country parks have become more popular and more traffic has been seen on the roads so more officers will be in those areas as a visible reminder to stick to the rules.

"We'll do what is necessary to prevent those minority of very irresponsible individuals putting others at risk in our community," he said.