Coronavirus: Second lockdown could reduce infection in Hertfordshire by 40 per cent, says county council

Jim McManus, director of public health for Hertfordshire

Jim McManus, director of public health for Hertfordshire - Credit: Archant

Moving from Tier One restrictions into a full-scale lockdown will cause a significant reduction in infections in Hertfordshire, the county council’s public health chief has said.

Statistics from Test and Trace show that education and shopping are the main sources of infection across the county, and director of public health Jim McManus has explained that the closure of shops will reduce cases even while schools remain open.

He said: “The first lockdown reduced infections by about 70 per cent. We think this will be about 40 per cent effective because we are keeping schools and universities open.

“Without any intervention we will over exceed the number of mechanical ventilation beds by January. We can reduce that tenfold.”

Mr McManus also said that if everyone adheres to the measures then deaths should reduce by around 90 per cent.

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Cllr Tim Hutchings, the council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “COVID is not going away any time soon. Our message remains the same around washing hands, wearing face coverings and social distancing.

“We can’t know what the situation will be on December 2. Personally I’d be very disappointed if we weren’t looking at remaining in Tier One.”

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Mr McManus emphasised that if we remain in Tier One following the lockdown the council will nonetheless be “hammering down” on sources of infection and prioritising enforcing health advice in order to keep life as normal as possible, and reduce the risk of moving into Tier Two or Three after the lockdown is lifted.

He said: “If we are in Tier One that would be great as it means the county remains as open as we can.”

He added that while there is still the risk of COVID being spread in schools, of which there are around 540 in Herts, there is “significant evidence that shows the harm caused by not being in education”, which also has to be taken into account.

Cllr Hutchings said: “Going from one set of restrictions to a tier system to lockdown and then back to a tier system is really not helping unless we can say to people ‘this is how we wanted it to pan out’.

“None of us know how exactly this is going to go.”

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