"Disappointed, but not surprised" is Northamptonshire health chief's view on 'Freedom Day' delay

PM's right to balance risks over lifting restrictions, says Lucy Wightman

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:20 pm

Northamptonshire's health chief says she is "disappointed, but not surprised" by the delay in easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street news conference on Monday that postponing step four of them roadmap would allow for more people to get their second vaccination dose amid concerns over rising case numbers.

Plans for all restrictions on social distancing were due to be lifted next week (June 21) but are now set for July 19.

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Public Health Northamptonshire director, Lucy Wightman admitted: "I was not surprised by the announcement but disappointed, like everybody else.

"I appreciate this is a real blow for businesses and individuals.

"But I do understand that we have some extremely clinically vulnerable and unvaccinated people in wider population that we have a duty to protect."

Around 70 percent of Northamptonshire's over-18s have so far received one dose of Covid vaccine while just over half have had both doses.

Boris Johnson delivered his disappointing news in a Downing Street news conference last night
Boris Johnson delivered his disappointing news in a Downing Street news conference last night

Delaying 'Freedom Day' will give time to increase those figures to over 80 per cent for one dose and more than two-thirds for two jabs.

Mrs Wightman added: "It does feel a bit like groundhog day.

"We do live with risks like flu, the difference is that the variants are more predictable and we're able to develop vaccines that have a lot of different strains in them.

"With Covid, we're waiting for the science to catch up with that slightly.

Northamptonshire's NHS teams are delivering around 5,500 jabs each day

"I don't think the government are looking to eradicate this and there's a real recognition of the fact that we can't. But we do have to make sure the balance of risk is appropriate around those who are still vulnerable and need that protection.

"I would hope that we would start to move forward In July when the balance of other risks starts to outweigh those that remain unprotected.

"These are business that are people's incomes and pubs and restaurants are at the heart of our communities. It's causing a lot of social isolation as well as economic challenges.

"This is why I'm keen for the government to find that balance. But, at the moment, it is still unfortunately weighted with the need to get people vaccinated.

"I also understand govt's logic of once they release restrictions they want to do it once and for all and theefore unfortunately we have to err on the side of caution."

Close on 800,000 vaccine jabs have been delivered across Northamptonshire at the rate of around 5,500 EVERY DAY!

Of those, 465,300 have been first doses out of a target population of 657,000.

Health secretary Matt Hancock today (Tuesday) announced that anybody over 23 can now book their first jab.

And attempts will be ramped up to improve uptake of jabs in areas of Northampton and Corby where

Mrs Wightman added: "Vaccinating is something people have a choice about but this is our way out of the current restrictions.

"We recognise that people have concerns but local teams and GPs can talk you through those concerns and the risk is minimal compared to that of actually catching covid.

"We're seeing more and more younger people hospitalised who haven't had the vaccination and that's a real concern."

■ Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms — a new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or a high temperature should self-isolate immediately and book a test online HERE, via the Test and Trace app or by calling 119

■ Free lateral flow device tests are available at sites across the county — click HERE for more details — or kits can be ordered and collected for home use

■ All those aged 32 or over are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination. Click HERE to book or contact your GP