Portsmouth 'may get call' to move into Tier 2 coronavirus restriction after infection rise

CITY leaders have warned they are bracing themselves for ‘the call’ from health officials in Whitehall which will plunge Portsmouth into tighter coronavirus restrictions.

Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 6:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 2:28 pm

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council boss, revealed the stark assessment following Portsmouth’s spiralling infection rate.

The Liberal Democrat leader claimed the authority – which is currently in the lowest Tier 1 category of lockdown restrictions – now had an infection rate on par with area’s in Tier 2 measures.

It comes as Portsmouth recorded 374 new Covid-19 infections in the past seven days to October 22.

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An ambulance crew wearing protective clothing transfer a patient, whose condition was described as not being related to Covid-19, from their ambulance to the Queen Alexandra hospital on May 05, 2020. (Photo by Leon Neal - Pool/Getty Images)

The news means the city’s infection rate per 100,000 people in the population was 174.

The figure has now surpassed Slough’s, which was plunged into Tier 2 restrictions over the weekend after the number of residents testing positive for Covid-19 topped 140 per 100,000.

Asked if Portsmouth could soon be facing tighter restrictions, Cllr Vernon-Jackson admitted: ‘We may get the call any day.’

At the moment, communities in Tier 1 are deemed as ‘medium risk’ areas.

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This means the government’s ‘rule of six’ must be followed if meeting indoors and outdoors, while all pubs and restaurants must close by 10pm.

But under Tier 2 restrictions, no households are allowed to mix indoors. The rule of six still applies outdoors, while there is no change to curfew restrictions already imposed on pubs and restaurants.

However, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said that although Portsmouth had a higher infection rate than Slough, its outbreak had a vastly different structure to it.

‘We’re in a strange place,’ he added. ‘Our number of infections over the last week are the same as Slough’s and they’re in Tier 2 and we’re not.

‘One reason for that is because our profile of people testing positive in Portsmouth is very, very different.

‘More young people are testing positive here. People most at risk of Covid-19 are people who are elderly.

‘So while 71 per cent of people who have it are between the ages of 10 and 29, 29 per cent of people testing positive are 30 or older or under 10 years old.

‘And at the moment we’re not getting the pressure at Queen Alexandra hospital. We’re a very different profile.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson admitted, however, that the authority was ‘preparing itself’ to move into the higher level restrictions.

Of the latest infections, 17 per cent are contained in ‘halls of residence’ at the University of Portsmouth. While a further three per cent were ‘associated with the naval base’.

Twelve per cent of positive results were from Pillar 1 tests carried out in hospitals and care homes.

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