Stark warning over not sticking to Christmas coronavirus rules after pre-lockdown spike in Northamptonshire
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A stark warning has been issued by Northamptonshire public health bosses about the potentially devastating risks of residents not sticking to the rules over the five-day Christmas break.
The county saw a 54 per cent increase in coronavirus cases in the week the last lockdown, making officials worried about the potential spike over the festive period.
Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn was disappointed with the results of the four-week shutdown but insisted it was the right thing to do during a virtual press conference yesterday (Friday, December 11).
"There are people walking around Northampton and Northamptonshire right now who would have suffered from coronavirus had we not gone into lockdown," he said.
"It's a shame it did not have a more transformational impact but we are where we are.
"The five-day period could be devastating if we don't remain incredibly careful."
Coronavirus cases in Northamptonshire went from 1,057 in the week of October 26, to 1,650 the following week when the prime minister announced the second national lockdown.
Northamptonshire County Council director for public health, Lucy Wightman, believes this is because, while most people adhered to the rules, some decided to break the tier one restrictions by mixing with more than five others indoors.
Case numbers reduced to 981 for the latest available week of data but the public health chief lamented that had people been more sensible, that figure could have been closer to 500 than 1,000.
On top of that, if people have five days to mix indoors with other households from December 23, and do not adhere to the limitations, officials fear it could lead to an even bigger spike.
"No one wants to give someone Covid for Christmas and we all know about the impact on the local economy, our mental health and hospital staff and services," she told the press conference.
"We are potentially heading into a period we have not seen yet."
Cllr Nunn said it was a shame the lockdown had not 'transformed' the county's statistics as the authorities had hoped for.
"If we're blunt, it's not been a marvellous solution and it's not transformed things but that's where we are and we see no change," he said.
"Lockdown only works for as long as you're locked down as when you come out the numbers climb again.
"But if we hadn't done it then I wonder where those numbers would be so I think it was the right thing to do and I'm glad we have done it."
The Conservative councillor for Nene Valley was similarly concerned about the potential for a Christmas spent mixing with too many households indoors.
"With Christmas coming, we need to ask ourselves if we should take advantage of the relaxed restrictions or not as our cases are still really high."