Delays in implementing coronavirus restrictions in Nottingham are placing “an unnecessarily huge burden on local resources”, the city’s council leader has said.
Councillor David Mellen called for the Government to “let us get on with taking the action ourselves” after statistics showed the city has jumped to the highest rate in England – from 112.3 cases per 100,000 to 689.1 per 100,000 in the seven days leading up to October 5.
Nottingham recorded 2,294 new cases in those seven days compared to 407 in the previous week.
The rising rate has coincided with a recent outbreak at the University of Nottingham, as figures on its website showed 425 students had tested positive for Covid-19 during the week ending last Friday.
Figures based on Public Health England data show Nottingham is also well ahead of the area with the second highest rate, Knowsley, which is now on 601.2 cases per 100,000 people.
On Thursday, news emerged that the city would learn what restrictions would be imposed on Monday – sparking a fear from the council that people would think the weekend “is the last chance before Christmas” to have a party.
Nottingham City Council said they were led to believe the Government had intended to introduce new restrictions this week until they heard of a proposed delay until Monday.
Mr Mellon said: “We were working towards new Government restrictions being imposed this week.
“While we are already urging local residents to stick to their social bubbles and not mix with anyone outside their households, we are very concerned about the possible implications of the Government not imposing extra restrictions until next week.
“There is a chance this weekend that people might think this is the last chance before Christmas, let’s go out and party – and we can’t have that.”
Mr Mellon continued: “It seems like we’re victims of a Government change of approach and therefore even though we’ve got very high numbers that we’ve known about since the beginning of the week, we’ve got to wait until next week for Government to bring in what we expect will be new restrictions in Nottingham.
“We need Government to act urgently and decisively or better still, give us the powers to let us get on with taking the action ourselves.
“It unnecessarily places a huge burden on our local resources to manage the clear potential for people to decide to go out and socialise one last time this weekend before local measures are introduced, which runs the risk of making a bad situation even worse in terms of infection rates.
“All we can do is urge people to do the sensible thing and stay at home. This deadly virus is now rife in our city and you are putting yourselves and others at risk unless you take this seriously and follow the strict guidance that’s in place.”
Director of public health for Nottingham Alison Challenger said there was “no need” to wait for Government restrictions and urged people in the city not to mix with other households.
She said: “Our latest surveillance report published today shows that last week the number of cases in the city shot up to 1,600 from just under 300 the week before.
“That’s a dramatic increase, even allowing for any data glitches, and it’s abundantly clear that stricter measures are needed.
“We need local people to continue to stick to the existing rules as they have done overwhelmingly so far.”
Ms Challenger continued: “In addition, we have said that because of the concerning rise in local positive cases and infection, everyone needs to stick rigidly to their social bubbles and not mix with other households.
“There is no need to wait for additional Government restrictions – it is clear that infection rates are rising which means that we need to do more than we have been so far in Nottingham to curb the spread of the virus.
“We are seeing an increase in Covid patients being admitted to hospital locally which is of serious concern.”