NHS boss calls for tighter lockdown and school closures in England's Covid blackspot as cases soar

AN NHS boss has called for school closures and tighter lockdown restrictions in England's Covid blackspot as cases continue to skyrocket.

Chris Long, the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive, has said that a stiffer lockdown is needed to tackle growing cases in the area.

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Hull has become the country's worst affected area, with 743 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people recorded last week.

Nearly 2,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in just one week – causing Hull to overtake Oldham as England's Covid blackspot.

Mr Long 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.

"We need to be looking quite seriously at much stiffer lockdown restrictions than we have got.

"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."

When asked about action to close schools for a short period to try and reduce transmission, the NHS boss said: "I'm afraid it would have to, and in other parts of the country.

"The actions that we take now are the ones that will prevent the spread and this means more restrictions."

In Hull, a total of 1,931 new coronavirus cases were reported in the seven days up to November 9 – a sharp jump up of 520 cases reported in the week before.

Worrying data from Public Health England shows that infection rates have gone up in 218 of 315 local council areas, despite large swathes of the population having been under lockdown restrictions for months.

Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire have been included in a pilot national rollout of 500,000 rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests.

It's expected that the results will be delivered in an hour and won't need to be processed in a laboratory.

This differs from the swab coronavirus tests where results are usually delivered between 24 and 36 hours.

Despite calls from teaching unions, Boris Johnson has vowed to keep classes open during the second national lockdown.

The PM told the nation in a live TV address: "School is the best place for children to be.

"We cannot let the virus damage our children futures more than it already has."

But Sir Jeremy Farrar has said that schools should close if infection rates continue to soar – despite Boris Johnson saying they will stay open during the shutdown.

The Sage member said: "Because we have delayed the onset of this lockdown, it does make keeping schools [open] harder.

"If the transmission in secondary schools continues to rise that may have to be revisited in the next four weeks."

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