Leicester's director of public health has warned local people that the coronavirus situation is now putting huge strain on the city's hospitals.
The transcript of his video message is set out below:
“I’m sure you’ll have heard about the new, highly transmissible variant of coronavirus that started in the south-east of England – but you may not have realised just how quickly this is spreading across the country.
“We are now beginning to see its impact here in Leicester too.
“This week we saw our highest levels of infection since the start of the pandemic. Currently some 2,000 new cases are being identified in Leicester each week, with our seven-day infection rate per 100,000 people five times higher than the levels we saw over the summer.
“The current lockdown will, we hope, help slow transmission rates – but over the next two weeks, Leicester’s hospitals risk being overwhelmed as these rapidly rising levels lead to more people requiring hospital care. That means there’s a very real risk that there won’t be beds, and places in intensive care units, for all the people who need them – whether it’s because of serious illness caused by coronavirus, or for all the other reasons we depend on the skills and expertise of the NHS.
“So many people have sacrificed so much over the past 10 months, and have complied with the restrictions and health protection guidance to protect themselves and others, but for those who have not, I would say this: people are really sick at home, or lying in intensive care beds in Leicester’s hospitals, because someone gave them coronavirus. And, inevitably, people will die, because someone gave them coronavirus.
“These are people of all ages and of all ethnic backgrounds. Not all the patients in hospital with coronavirus are over 60 or have a pre-existing condition – we’re now seeing increasing numbers of working-aged people in our hospitals.
“My message to you today is: please don’t think that this virus won’t affect you or your family.
“Do all that you can to avoid catching the virus – and that means staying at home, unless it’s for an essential activity, wearing a face covering whenever it’s required, keeping at least 2m apart from other people, and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day.
“And please make sure you do all you can to avoid spreading the virus. In this new phase of the pandemic, assume you could be a carrier. At the first sign of symptoms, book a test – and stay at home until you’ve had your result. If you test positive, you must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days – even if you don’t feel unwell. And don’t forget that everyone you live with must stay at home for 10 days too.
“Remember too that it’s possible to have the virus, and pass on the virus, without having any of the symptoms.
“If you’re contacted by the test & trace service and told that you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for the virus, you must self-isolate for 10 days.
“By isolating the virus, and giving it nowhere to go, we can stop it in its tracks.
“There is, finally, light at the end of this long tunnel as the vaccination programme accelerates – but for now, and for the coming weeks, we all have to be extra cautious.
“Please do not under-estimate how dangerous this virus is. Look after yourself, and the people around you. Follow the rules, resist the temptation to meet up with friends or family you don’t live with, and we will get through this.”
Professor Ivan Browne