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Sheffield should brace itself for lockdown this week, warns MP

Written by on 07/10/2020

A Sheffield MP has said she expects the city to be placed under lockdown this week following the coronavirus outbreak at the two universities.

Labour MP Louise Haigh said the restrictions that are currently in place in West Yorkshire were now “unavoidable” for Sheffield.

The Sheffield Heeley MP told YorkshireLive: “Very sadly, the number of infections has crept up to numbers which far surpass those that we saw in in Oldham and West Yorkshire when they were put into local lockdown, so as infection rates continue to increase further restrictions on social contact will become unavoidable.

“They will become unavoidable but it was not inevitable,” she added.

“The government could have avoided this earlier on by putting in place that test, track and isolate system and instead we’ve got a completely fragmented picture, with outsourcing companies – Serco, Deloitte, G4S – completely messing it up on a daily basis and us, the public, paying the price.”

Asked whether Sheffield could be placed under lockdown this week, Ms Haigh said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

“Our infection rates are worrying, so I would just urge the public to continue following the regulations as they currently stand, avoid contact wherever possible, keep washing your hands and keep staying as safe as possible and hopefully we can avoid going into further restrictions.”

Over the past few days the number of cases in Sheffield has shot up so dramatically that it now has the second highest infection rate in Yorkshire, behind Leeds.

In the seven days to October 3, Sheffield recorded 1,874 new cases, giving it an infection rate of 320.4 cases per 100,000 people. This is up from 112.3 in the seven days to September 26.

Leeds has seen a huge spike following the IT glitch at Public Health England which meant that nearly 16,000 cases went unreported on its system. The city has now surpassed Bradford as Yorkshire’s coronavirus hotspot, with an infection rate of 346.6 cases per 100,000 population.

On Tuesday Sheffield’s two universities recorded a massive outbreak of cases, forcing more than 900 students and members of staff to self-isoalte.

The University of Sheffield has seen 589 cases confirmed since the start of term on September 28, including six staff members, while Sheffield Hallam recorded 373 cases since September 21, including four members of staff.

Ms Haigh said it the outbreak was “inevitable” and that it was wrong to blame students.

“My heart really goes out to all the students who are suffering, but it is a really big risk to the wider public health of our whole city.

“It was completely inevitable when you’ve got millions of students moving around the country and going into group accommodation and socialising in the pubs and clubs, which is what all students do, especially in their first year of university.

“All the pressure is now on students and universities and they’re now being told completely intolerable messages like they may not be able to come home at Christmas.

“It’s a completely unacceptable situation for students and universities to find themselves in, and of course it’s really worrying for the wider public health of the Sheffield community.”

She continued: “We’ve been seeing this at every turn from the government – refusing to accept there’s problem and only when it’s too late turning around and blaming the public.

“In this case it’s students; we heard the Prime Minister say we weren’t in good enough shape to deal with coronavirus because the public was too fat. In one way or another, the public is always too blame and the buck never seems to stop with the government.”