Coventry City Council has issued a stark warning ahead of Christmas, telling residents to “not lower their guard” to the threat of a new variant of coronavirus.
The warning comes after swathes of the South of England were placed into a new Tier 4 level of local restrictions over the weekend after details of the new strain of coronavirus emerged.
The new strain, dubbed VUI-202012/01, is said to be 70 per cent more infectious, but there is currently no data that suggests it has a higher mortality rate.
Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health for Coventry, warned that “we cannot let our collective guards down over Christmas as, although we are in Tier 3, our rates are rising”.
Cases in Coventry are up 31 per cent as of 20 December; the rate per 100,000 resident population stands at 195.1.
Ms Gaulton explained that the new variant “could well already be circulating around our region”, considering it has already been detected as far afield as Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.
In the week to December 9, the percentage of cases caused by the new strain in the West Midlands is believed to be around 11 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics Infection Survey.
“What we do know is that the measures that stop COVID spreading will also work against this new variant”, Ms Gaulton added.
In a statement, Coventry City Council issued the following advice for the Christmas period:
- You must not travel to Tier 4 areas. Travelling in and out of different tiers risks increasing the speed that the new variant will spread across the country
- Although Coventry is in Tier 3, our rates are increasing and it is probable that the new variant is circulating. Therefore, keep your contact to a minimum and act like people you see have the virus.
- Think ‘should I do this given what we know about the new form of the virus’ not ‘can I do this within the rules’
- You can only meet your Christmas bubble on the 25th December. Keep your visit as short as possible, as few people as possible and outdoors if you can
- Look out for other people but pick up the phone or see people virtually to check if they are okay
Ms Gaulton concluded: “I know it has been such a difficult year, but it is so important we continue to build on what we have achieved so far”.
“We need to hold off for a little longer and let the NHS do its work treating people with COVID and other critical health needs and give them the time to roll out the vaccine. The NHS really need our help at this time.”