Fears that Northamptonshire could be in a tougher Covid tier by Boxing Day as cases soar in the county

New variant cases are everywhere, we can't stop this getting into other places, warns top scientist

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 8:56 am

Northamptonshire could face tighter restrictions as early as Boxing Day as fears grow over the spread of a new variant of coronavirus.

Ministers are expected to meet today to discuss elevating more areas into Tier Three and Tier Four after the county recorded its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases with nearly 400 positive tests.

Reports from a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday night revealed the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it was likely that measures would "need to be increased" outside the current Tier Four regions.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. Photo: Getty Images

The next review of the Government's Winter Plan is not due until December 30. But fears the mutant strain is now “everywhere” forced a rethink.

In a stark warning, Sir Patrick added: "I think it is a case that this will spread more.

"It's localised in some places but we know there are cases everywhere, so it's not as though we can stop this getting into other places."

Data shows cases are soaring across these parts of Northamptonshire adding to the likelihood of more hospital admissions and deaths if the virus is cannot be contained.

How the number of Covid cases have soared since lockdown ended on December 2, according to the Government's figures. Source: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

Public Health England last night revealed 388 new positive tests in Northamptonshire during the 24-hour period up to 4pm on Monday.

Anyone receiving a positive test since Monday — plus anybody identified by Test and Trace as having been in close contact — will spend all of Christmas alone under orders to self-isolate away from friends and family in their own households.

Northampton, South Northants and Wellingborough now all have rolling-rates of weekly cases close to 300 per 100,000 people with increases of up to 50 per cent in a week.

NHS England also yesterday confirmed 12 more coronavirus deaths between Friday and Monday in Northamptonshire's two main hospitals while nine deaths in county care homes linked to the virus were reported in a five-day period last week.

Three neighbouring areas including Milton Keynes, Bedford and Peterborough were all put into Tier Four on Sunday as the PM put backed scientific evidence the new strain, called VUI2020/01, was spreading rapidly — although Northamptonshire remained in Tier Two.

Director of Public Health, Lucy Wightman, confirmed fears that extra numbers visiting shops and retail parks in Northamptonshire was likely to be down to people coming into the county from nearby Tier Four areas, where non-essential shops are closed.

Health officials say around one in three people who have coronavirus do not show symptoms — and could therefore be spreading the virus without knowing.

Moving into Tier Three would mean no mixing of households indoors and the Rule of Six applies outdoors, non-essential shops can open but pubs and restaurants can only operate as takeaways.