'Do your bit to help prevent the NHS being overwhelmed this winter' says health boss as Covid cases spiral in Harborough

He’s appealing to people to get their booster jab and to be extra-vigilant - Harborough has the fifth-highest rate of infection among the over-60s in the country

People in Harborough are being urged by the county’s health chief to work flat out to prevent the NHS being “overwhelmed” this winter after the rate of Covid cases has spiralled.

The urgent call to arms to men, women and children across the district is being made by Mike Sandys, the Director of Public Health for Leicestershire.

He’s appealing to people to get their booster jab and to be extra-vigilant as the number of people with the coronavirus in Harborough climbed to 450.1 per 100,000 in the seven days up to yesterday (Monday).

Mike Sandys, Director of Public Health for Leicestershire

That was a 45 per cent rise on the previous seven days.

And the current rate of infection among the over-60s in Harborough has “shot up” to become the fifth-highest in the country.

“We must all do what we can to push back the Covid virus yet again.

“None of us wants the NHS to be overwhelmed this winter,” Mike told the Harborough Mail.

“Covid by itself wouldn’t collapse the health service over the next few months.

“But combined with the threat from flu cases and other winter illnesses it would just pile extra pressure on doctors, nurses and everyone else as they are pushed to the limit.

“So we all owe it to ourselves as well as the NHS and our communities to take every measure we can to beat Covid.”

The county’s vastly-experienced public health chief said Harborough’s current coronavirus infection rate is running well above the national average for England.

“The latest figures show there are 352.5 people per 100,000 in England with Covid.

“The current rate for Leicestershire is 463.8,” said Mike.

“The trend has well and truly swung around.

“Only days ago on Monday November 8 the infection rate stood at 309 in Harborough and 386 for England.

“And looking ahead I can see even more cases in Harborough coming on down the line.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve hit 500 by the end of this week.

“Some 40 per cent of cases in Harborough over the last week have been among the under-20s.

“We are seeing more cases in primary school children aged under 10.

“We’re also getting more of the over-50s and over-60s contracting Covid,” said Leicestershire’s health supremo.

“That could be because they are grandparents helping to look after younger children who’ve caught the virus.

“Now the number of patients being treated in our three major hospitals in Leicester with Covid has been fairly stable for a while, hovering around the 100 mark.

“The last thing we want is for older people becoming infected with the coronavirus having to go into hospital to be treated.

“So I will spell out again exactly what we all have to do.

“Get the booster or third vaccination as soon as you can, get the flu jab if you qualify for it, wear a mask or face covering indoors and always well ventilate your home when you have friends and family round,” stressed Mike.

“Carry on washing your hands, clean down all your hard surfaces and mix with other people out in the fresh air as much as possible.

“You’ll be much safer that way.

“The rate of infection for the over-60s in Harborough makes up just 15 per cent of the total here – but has shot up to become the fifth-highest in the country.

“So I am more worried now than I was in mid-September because it was easier to rationalise and understand what was happening then as kids returned to school.

“And that makes it even more critical that we are all on our guard all of the time.”

Asked if he backs the Government’s hardline policy of compelling all NHS and care home staff to get vaccinated against Covid, Mike replied: “I wouldn’t want to force people to do what they didn’t want to do.

“I’d hope that they’d realise that it’s in their best interests and everyone else’s to get the jab.

“I don’t understand why they cannot see the worth of the nation’s highly-successful vaccination programme throughout 2021.

“I can only think that it’s because some people believe rubbish,” he insisted.

“We had nine deaths in Leicestershire last week because of Covid.

“Now back in January we had 90 people a week dying of the virus.

“So we now have just 10 per cent of that death toll thanks largely to the vaccines.

“Get vaccinated and it could help to save your life – cutting your chances of dying from the coronavirus by an astonishing 90 per cent.

“Our fantastic NHS in Leicestershire will do their darndest to cope this winter.

“But it will be very difficult for staff to perpetually cope week in week out as they face so many different challenges this winter,” said Mike.

“So please do all you can to help keep the lid on Covid and keep cases of infection and the number of hospital admissions to an absolute minimum.”