We welcome the successful roll out of the vaccination programme across the country so far. However, this does not mean that the pandemic has gone away. Across the East Midlands, there are worrying signs of a recent increase in case numbers throughout the region.
Levels in Rutland have doubled over the past week whilst Corby currently has the highest number of cases of any area in England. Of the 15 areas in England where cases are currently rising, 7 of them are in our region – Corby, Kettering, Boston, Rutland, East Lindsey, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.
Users of the ZOE app across the region have also noticed an uptick in cases. Whilst we acknowledge it is only a model (with all the limitations thereof), in our experience the app generally reflects real life trends quite accurately.
The reason for this worrying increase is not clear – it is likely to be multi-factorial. We still have not closed our borders and the new, highly-transmissible South African variant has now been found scattered throughout the country. Are people assuming that because the vaccination programme is going well, there is no need to stay locked down? Are people unable to lockdown because of inadequate furlough provision or self-isolation support? Last month, Councillor Tom Beattie from Corby pointed out that many Northamptonshire inhabitants felt unsafe at work. He questioned whether the furlough schemes that factories had been able to use during the previous lockdown need to be reinstated this time round.