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Cambridgeshire health director urges caution as Plan B set to end

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People in Cambridgeshire need to “persevere” and continue taking personal protective measures against covid despite the end of Plan B rules later this week.

From Thursday (27), people in England will no longer be advised to work from home, and face coverings in indoor venues will no longer be mandatory.

However, the Cambridgeshire's director of public health, Jyoti Atri has said the message needs to be driven home to people in the county that coronavirus rates are still high and that the local picture may not reflect that national one.

Jyoti Atri is the director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council. (54484278)
Jyoti Atri is the director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council. (54484278)

She made the comments at a meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Outbreak Engagement Board on Friday (21), where health representatives gave updates on the current situation in the area.

While there has been a sharp fall in the reported positive cases, Ms Atri said some of this is down to fewer people taking and reporting tests.

She also said she expects there to be a continued rise in the number of primary school age children testing positive for coronavirus and highlighted the impact high rates in schools is having on the wider workforce.

Ms Atri also told the meeting that outbreaks in many care homes have now been seen again, including some “large scale” cases.

She said: “What we need to do is to drive home that actually our rates are still high and that we have got lower vaccination coverage in some of our areas, which increases risk.

“Things locally may not look exactly like what is happening nationally and I think that’s the key message to drive home.

“Things are not good here at the moment and we need to persevere with our personal protective measures and taking up the vaccine as much as possible at least until our rates start to go down.

“I am mindful of the toll this is taking on all of us, all of us as workforce but the public as well, and how tired people are, the mental wellbeing stresses that are on people.

“When rates do start to come down I do think we need to revaluate and reprioritise and support people to return to normal as much as possible.”

Ms Atri said vaccination needs to continue being the “mainstay” of the response to Covid-19.

Updating the meeting on the current vaccination progress, Jan Thomas, the accountable officer at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said there are around 150,000 who have yet to have their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

She said it is becoming “increasingly rare” for anyone who is fully vaccinated to end up in intensive care with coronavirus.

Christine Birchall, the head of communication and information at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, told the meeting that Peterborough and Cambridge had successfully bid for additional funding towards the vaccination effort.

She explained additional grant funding had been made available for particular authorities that were struggling with lower uptake of the vaccine.

Peterborough was awarded £485,000 and Cambridge was awarded £291,000. Ms Birchall said Peterborough will use the funding to focus on community activities and community champions to target some of the most deprived areas where vaccine take up is lower,

In Cambridge she explained the plan is to target younger people and students, with a plan being worked on at the moment.

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