East Riding Council’s public health lead has said a rise in cases locally represent the “first ripples” of a new coronavirus wave as officials prepare to mount a vaccine push.
East Riding Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said that while local case rates remained below regional and national averages, there were signs a wave was coming from the west.
Read more: Delaying end to Covid-19 restrictions ‘right thing’ for Hull
The director added the Delta variant was now dominant locally and despite related outbreaks being controlled so far there it would eventually “seed” in too many places to contain.
It comes as 121 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the East Riding from Tuesday, June 8 to Monday, June 14, up from 85 in the previous week.
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The seven day rolling rate up to Monday, June 14, was 36 per 100,000 people, up from 25. Mr Kingdom said that although infections in the East Riding had risen, rolling rates remained lower than Yorkshire’s and England’s 87 and 81 respectively.
But he added a wave was heading for the East Riding and the delay in lockdown restrictions should be used as an opportunity to race ahead with the vaccine rollout.
Mr Kingdom said: “If you think of the coronavirus situation being like a sea then sometimes it’s calm and smooth sailing for us.
“But it also has the potential to create plenty of waves and there’s going to be, the north west already has one, it’s more a question of how big they’ll be and how much damage they do.
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“We’ve bought ourselves a bit more time with the restrictions delay, the vaccines are our life jackets to protect against the wave.
“The further east you go the better it appears to be, but a wave is going to come our way so the question is how we reduce it and how do we get as many life jackets to people as possible.
“We’re still seeing low numbers of hospital admissions, we’ve got about five people in total in Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital with it at the moment.
“But as rates go up we’ll see it inevitably get to vulnerable people and to those whose immune systems can’t take it and unfortunately the vaccine doesn’t work for everyone.
“Looking at Bolton for example though even though their case numbers have gone up they’re only seeing about a quarter of the hospital admissions they were seeing before because the vaccine’s a huge protective factor.
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“Rises are being fuelled by a combination of the Delta variant and more social mixing, that strain is now dominant here.”
Mr Kingdom said the potential for a new wave underscored the importance of rolling out vaccines as quickly as possible.
He said: “The way we deal with the wave is by getting as many vaccine life jackets to as many people as possible, then we’ll have less infections.
“That combined with the immunity people develop from having it should reduce the risk of transmission for years to come.
“And even after the pandemic we’re probably going to have to vaccinate people once every couple of years and they’ll be outbreaks but it will be more like what we see with flu.”
Mr Kingdom said 82 per cent of eligible East Riding adults had now had their first doses and 66 per cent had had their second.
He added figures of 70 per cent for first doses and 25 per cent second doses in the 30 to 39 age range were welcome as they helped stopped coronavirus spreading to and from school pupils and their parents.
The director also said 35 per cent of 18 29 year olds already had first doses and 18 per cent had second doses because so many work in care homes but warned there was still a “long way to go”.
It comes as the council sent its vaccine bus on its first deployment to Goole, with officials now looking at using it to target workplaces, towns or a part of a town with typically high infection rates or low vaccine uptakes.
“Our vaccine rollout is extremely good at the moment, the East Riding has some of the highest take up rates in the country.
“We’ve still got a long way to go for the younger age range and we’ve got to give the gap between the first and second doses.
“We need to get the first dose rate up massively in the 18 to 29 range, whatever they need to do to get it we’re encouraging the over 21s to come forward.
“We’re still working out the logistics for the vaccine bus, but residents probably won’t hear about it until it comes to their area or workplace then they’ll be seeing lots of publicity on social media and elsewhere.
“There is a wave coming, but if we’ve got our life jackets on then we’ll be able to ride it out.”