By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham’s Public Health Director says people should still wear face coverings in crowded and indoor settings despite masks no longer being compulsory from January 27.
Lucy Hubber said she would continue to wear a face covering to protect those around her and would “strongly recommend other people do the same”.
Covid cases are starting to flatten across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, but are still at more than 1,000 per day.
There is still a high number of people with coronavirus in Nottingham hospitals with 264 admissions in the week leading up to January 16.
There were also 286 admissions in the week prior to that, with 15 people on ventilators and in the most critical condition and 22 deaths in the week leading up to January 19.
From Thursday, January 27, under the Government’s Plan A, people will no longer be advised to work from home and face coverings will no longer be mandatory in indoor venues.
Organisations will also be able to choose whether to require NHS Covid-passes.
Mrs Hubber told a media briefing on Friday, January 21: “In the city we have seen a rapid decline in the number of cases over the last week – half the case rate we had the previous week.
“But that is still really high – every week hundreds of people are testing positive.
“While we are seeing a decrease in all age groups, the case rate is increasing in some of our school age, particularly primary age children.
“Our move back to Plan A does not mean we have to stop doing everything. I would encourage people to continue to wear face coverings in crowded and indoor settings. I certainly will be wearing mine as I have done all the way through.”
Jonathan Gribbin, Public Health director for Nottinghamshire, said across the county more than 68,000 people had received a positive PCR tests over the last eight weeks when Omicron was first detected.
He said: “There is a flattening off of people in hospital with Covid in Nottinghamshire, all be it, a flattening off of levels that is still challenging for our services.
“Over the last eight weeks we have had sharp increases. That means 1,000 people a day are testing positive for coronavirus, but a significant reduction compared with a week or two ago.
“There are some early signs those reductions are flattening off. Although we have come down from the highest peak, we still find ourselves running with very high levels of cases.
“We can look ahead to the Spring with optimism but it’s essential we continue to exercise caution and care. Getting vaccinated remains the best single way to protect ourselves.
“The pandemic is not yet behind us. If we think of it as a mountain – we think we are still walking along a mountain ridge with some steep drops and some hazards potentially. We have not yet come back down to the green valley.”
Amanda Sullivan, from NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the last few weeks had been “incredibly challenging for the NHS”.
She said: “Thankfully we are not seeing hospital rates rise in the way they did last year and this is directly related to 84 per cent of over-18s having had two jabs and 64 per cent of over-18s having had a booster and people are still coming forward.
“We still have pockets of our communities that are to come forward. We are putting on special question and answer clinics where people can walk in and have a chat with an expert – with no pressure to have a vaccine.”
This has included a “new offer” at Asda in Hyson Green on Friday, January 21, as well as pop-up clinics in community venues such as mosques.
There will also be special clinics for women only and those with needle phobia.