The UK’s COVID-19 hotspot should have a tighter lockdown and school closures to reduce spiralling cases, Hull’s NHS boss has said.
Hull in East Yorkshire became England’s worst affected area this week as infection rates soared to well above 700 per 100,000 people.
This weekend, around 180 people are being treated at the Hull Royal Infirmary for COVID-19, with numbers expected to increase significantly in the next two weeks.
Chris Long, the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive, told Sky News: “We are at the next point in our surge plan so we are redeploying staff from other departments.
“There are still people out there who think COVID is some sort of massive hoax or that it’s just flu…it’s definitely not a hoax and the number of deaths we are experiencing is evidence of that.”
In the first two weeks of November 50 people died at the Royal Infirmary.
“We need to be looking quite seriously at much stiffer lockdown restrictions than we have got,” Mr Long added.
“We are seeing very high transmission rates around us and that’s because, despite the lockdown, a lot of people are just going about their normal lives.”
Mr Long said that meant he would like schools to be closed for a short period to try and reduce transmission.
“I’m afraid it would have to, and in other parts of the country,” he said.
“The actions that we take now are the ones that will prevent the spread and this means more restrictions.”
Jason England, who works in the food industry in Hull, told Sky News: “You get people at the extremes – some people are really paranoid about it and others are just laissez faire….almost a bit punch drunk by it all.
“I think people do want to do the right thing but people are struggling to stick with it.”
Dog walker Suzie Nichols said: “I’m still seeing people without masks and in bigger groups than they should be.
“I think we’ll come to the end of this lockdown and just be in the highest tier and it will just carry on.”
Also out for her daily exercise in the bracing winds around Hull Marina was Cynthia Asakapa who works as a radiographer at the city’s main hospital.
She told Sky News: “We are working really hard to get those rates down, but everyone needs just to keep up to date with hygiene, wearing face masks etc – all the things we know we should be doing.
“I know it’s tempting to visit your family, I’d love to go and visit my family in London but we have to just do this, keep the faith we can do this and reduce these levels.”
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