'Stay in Doncaster this Christmas,' says health boss as Covid death toll reaches 533

Doncaster’s top health boss has urged people to stay in the town this Christmas and not risk spreading coronavirus across the country, as the town’s Covid-19 death toll reached 533.

By Darren Burke
Thursday, 24th December 2020, 10:51 am

In his last weekly update of the year, Dr Rupert Suckling, the Director of Public Health, has told people to stay local amid fears of a new variant strain of coronavirus which is spreading rapidly in London and the South East.

He said: “We know this is not the Christmas so many of us had planned and in Public Health terms, reducing the opportunities for the virus to spread is still critical.

“You will know that there is a new variant of the virus which has been largely focused on the South East of England and Wales. We should not be complacent in thinking that it cannot reach Doncaster – it is a more infectious variant and therefore has the ability to spread quicker in human to human contact.

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Dr Rupert Suckling

"That it is why it is important we continue to follow the basics well – wash your hands thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face.

“Staying local and avoiding travel is also going to be more important than ever if we want to avoid another spike of cases in Doncaster.

"I would ask you to think about if you really need to make any journeys out of Doncaster in the coming days and would ask you to also discourage anybody from outside of the borough wanting to come and visit you.

“I appreciate it has not been easy and continues to be difficult but it is as critical as ever – even more so – to follow the guidance as we head into the Christmas and New Year period.

He added: “If you or anybody you live with has recently returned from a Tier 4 area (including Wales) I would also strongly recommend that you avoid contact with anybody from other households, bearing in mind many instances of this new strain seem to be present in people with no symptoms at all.

“Our infection rate for the last couple of weeks is yo-yoing and has been between the 200 - 220 infections per 100,000. The rates today for 10 to 16 December are 209.7 per 100,000 and our positivity rate – the number of people who have a test and test positive – is 9.5%.

“We do need to get this down and help ease the pressure on the NHS. It’s worth remembering that our infection rate reached a peak of 580 infections per 100,000 people in the autumn and we have worked hard together to get this down and I’m sure we can do it again.

“Doncaster’s testing centres will be open over Christmas so you can get a test – they are available - and do remember to self-isolate first if you have symptoms. We are currently working through the guidance for testing in schools and will be supporting schools with this information in the New Year. As you can imagine there is a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks.”

New figures announced yesterday by the NHS show that 533 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Doncaster.