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Second lockdown 'inevitable' in winter, says council health lead

George Roberts

A second COVID-19 lockdown will be ‘inevitable’ during the winter months, according to the Royal Borough’s lead member for health.

Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), cabinet member for health and mental health, has a professional background in epidemiology and infectious diseases.

Speaking to the Express on Wednesday, Cllr Carroll outlined how he expected a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 to hit the nation in the winter months as the country also deals with an increase in flu patients.

He also explained how the Royal Borough would respond if an outbreak, similar to the one in Leicester, took hold.

He said: “Going towards that winter season we have two challenges – the first is coronavirus and the second is influenza.

“The pressure and the situation that will be placed on the NHS is going to be significant, I think the NHS will be prepared for that but depending on that R number (the average number of infections caused by someone with coronavirus) lockdown may have to be sustained through the winter. I think it’s inevitable there will be another lockdown.

“It’s got to be data driven, I’m not a clairvoyant but when you look at the models it’s difficult to see how there isn’t going to be a second wave and if there is how there isn’t going to be a need for a form of lockdown to protect the NHS and save lives.

“It’s difficult and we want to be optimistic but we also need to be realistic about what’s coming.”

Although COVID-19 cases are slowly decreasing around the country and lockdown continues to be eased, this week has seen restrictions tightened in Leicester after the city reported a seven-day infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people.

This week, national reports suggested that the Royal Borough was one of 36 areas ‘at risk’ of local lockdowns due to rising cases.

But the Royal Borough responded to ‘reassure residents’, adding ‘looking at the data available we had two confirmed cases in the last two weeks’ (June 15 to 29).

“Our rate per 100,000 population has remained significantly lower than the South East and England’s rates since mid-April,” it added.

Cllr Carroll explained that the risk of emergency lockdown restrictions being imposed on the Royal Borough was low, but stated that schools may close and tighter restrictions introduced if required.

He said: “The Royal Borough is much more spread out compared to somewhere like Leicester or London.

“On the balance of probabilities we are at a lower risk but that’s not to say there’s no risk.

“In a situation like that where we are seeing a full-blown outbreak, almost an epidemic, I think measures like closing schools might be required.

“It comes down to that R number, if it’s rampant we may be forced to take extreme action like closing schools and returning to the form of lockdown we saw earlier this year, it’s a challenge.”

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