Just days before a raft of Covid restrictions are due to be eased, a Derbyshire town has become England’s Covid hotspot.
Long Eaton in Erewash – on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire – has seen a cluster of 160 cases in the town and surrounding area since the beginning of May: 150 of these have been linked to an outbreak at one school. Dean Wallace, director of Public Health at Derbyshire County Council, has said that, thus far, there is nothing to suggest that these cases have been caused by a new variant, such as B.1.617.2, the so-called Indian variant.
Erewash may currently have the highest rate of cases per 100,000 population in England and Wales but numbers are rising in many places across the country, with the North West, the Midlands and the east of England also affected. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called on the government to provide emergency vaccines in Bolton because of an alarming spike of coronavirus cases in the borough. Boris Johnson has so far declined the request.
Today in the House of Commons, the prime minister admitted that the Indian variant is giving cause for concern. However, he reiterated that the easing of lockdown is to proceed as planned. Monday 17th May will therefore see a large number of restrictions disappear, including the compulsory wearing of facemarks in school. The outbreak at Wilsthorpe school in Long Eaton must surely raise the question of whether this is too soon.