'Circuit breaker may last longer than two weeks,' claims top Doncaster health chief

Doncaster’s top public health chief has suggested a so-called two-week ‘circuit breaker’ may end up dragging on for a matter of months.

Saturday, 17th October 2020, 7:00 am

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for a short sharp lockdown to halt rising infections across the country.

This mirrors calls from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to the Prime Minister in a private meeting on September 21, which were not carried out.

The current infection rate stands at around 224 cases per 100,000 for Doncaster.

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Market Place, Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley

In the rest of South Yorkshire, Sheffield has 435, Barnsley 320 and Rotherham 293.

Across hospitals in Doncaster and Mexborough, there are around 80 people in hospital with Covid-19. The last time it was that high was late May.

From March, Doncaster’s coronavirus death toll stood at 266 as of October 2.

When asked around the potential for a two-week circuit breaker, Dr Suckling said it potentially would have to last for more than a fortnight in order for it to really have an effect.

“As a public health approach with a pandemic, you need to act early and hard as you can,” he said.

Dr Suckling added: “The issue with a circuit breaker as described was it may have had an impact on September 21 as reported but I don’t think a two-week circuit breaker will have the impact it needs.

“We might go into it saying it’s two weeks but that might end up being four, six or eight weeks.

“The thing about this virus is any restrictions take some weeks before you see the potential benefit from what you aim to set out to do.”

Dr Suckling said the rate of infection in Doncaster is currently ‘doubling every week’ with the main category being those aged between 15 and 34-years-old.

But he said hospital admissions were on the rise in the borough, and infection rates were beginning to spread to older age groups, including those over 65.

Devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland have considered bringing in a circuit breaker lockdown between two to four weeks in order to try to stem the rising infection rate.