Hancock and Van-Tam echo lockdown warnings from Northamptonshire's health chief

Covid cases RISING in Corby and Wellingborough as government won't rule out action in individual areas

Friday, 26th February 2021, 9:19 pm
Updated Friday, 26th February 2021, 9:20 pm

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England's deputy chief medical officer echoed lockdown warnings by Northamptonshire's health chief Lucy Wightman.

Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Corby and Wellingborough have prompted fears extra restrictions could be kept in place when the rest of country emerges from lockdown next month.

Mrs Wightman was labelled "negative" and "gloomy" on social media after telling Friday's weekly county council media briefing: "We need to be really vigilant over the coming weeks to ensure we don't start to see case rates significantly go back up, which could potentially jeopardise our progress in the release from lockdown."

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England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam at Friday's Downing Street briefing. Photo: Getty Images

But Mr Hancock admitted the government is not ruling out taking local action in individual areas if numbers of Covid-19 cases stay high.

And speaking at Friday's 5pm Downing Street briefing, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam warned everyone "do not wreck this now" as other areas of the UK joined Corby and Wellingborough in seeing a rise in infections.

Mr Van-Tam said: "In some parts of the UK case rates are changing in the wrong direction.

"This is not a good sign and reinforces the face, I'm afraid, that this battle at the moment is not won.

Health Scretary Matt Hancock echoed lockdown warnings by Northamptonshire's health chief Lucy Wightman

"We are so close. Do not wreck this now. It is too early to relax. Just continue to maintain discipline and hang on just a few more months.

"It's a bit like being 3-0 up in a game and thinking 'well, we can't possibly lose this now', but how many times have you seen the other side take it 4-3?"

Corby's weekly infection rate remains the highest in the UK at 351.7 positive tests per 100,000 people and is up by 12 per cent since February 12..Peterborough is next in the list at 264.

Wellingborough's rate is now the UK's tenth highest at 229.6 per 100,000 compared to 192 on February 13.

Mrs Wightman today revealed she is waiting to hear from Public Health England about whether areas could be held back on March 29, the target date for beginning to ease lockdown restrictions announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.

That was met with dismay on social media with one poster saying: "Negativity is not what we want to hear! We can see light at the end of what was a very dark tunnel now."

But Mr Hancock said tonight the government "does not rule out taking local action in an individual area" if there is a surge in Covid-19 cases.

He said: "We propose to come out of the national lockdown altogether, these regional disparities are smaller than we saw in the autumn.

"We don't rule out taking local action in an individual area if we see a spike, but the goal is for all of us to come out together."