Hertfordshire health chief says strategy that ‘doesn’t rely on circuit breakers’ is needed

PUBLISHED: 11:40 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 22 October 2020

A circuit breaker is 'not a magic bullet' according to Herts County Council's  public health chief. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

A circuit breaker is 'not a magic bullet' according to Herts County Council's public health chief. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Hertfordshire County Council’s health chief has said that a patchwork tier system across the county “would not work”.

Hertfordshire County Council's director of public health Jim McManus. Picture: Herts county councilHertfordshire County Council's director of public health Jim McManus. Picture: Herts county council

In a briefing yesterday morning Herts County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor Jim McManus and Cllr Tim Hutchings, cabinet member for public health and prevention, addressed questions about a second lockdown and the possibility of having different areas across Hertfordshire in different tiers.

Cllr Hutchings said: “We’re at the higher end of Tier 1, there’s no question about that. At the moment we feel as if we’re in control of the situation but it’s not impossible that PHE will come along and say you’re in Tier 2.

“If you’ve got somewhere like Stevenage which is very low you could make a case to say that should stay in Tier 1 and the rest of the county should go into 2. But if you consider the number of people that travel from other parts of the county into and across Stevenage. I think one would come to the conclusion that it’s very confusing.

“I don’t think a patchwork across the county would work.

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“If there’s a definite division one can look at, well fine, but otherwise no it’s probably going to have to be the whole county.”

Professor McManus also believes the patchwork system wouldn’t work as many people move around the county for work.

Although the current system does see Tier 1 areas border Tier 2 areas, to which he said: “There is never going to be a perfect system is there. The advice I would give to people is treat every single person you meet as if they could be infected and treat yourselves as infected when you go to meet others.”

On the topic of a second lockdown, a circuit breaker, the Herts health chief said: “A circuit breaker is not a magic bullet, it would have to be done with a variety of other things, contuining to test and trace. It comes with a range of costs, it’s not a zero cost option.

He believes the Government is going for a plan which doesn’t use a circuit breaker but focuses more local restrictions amongst other measures.

Though they are not without their benefits, he said they “would give a short sharp stop to transmission, the disbenefit is that when you come out of a circuit breaker the virus can start rising again which is exactly what we’ve seen in England and many other countries”.

He added: “Sooner or later we’re going to have to find a strategy in this country that doesn’t rely on circuit breakers to get us out of the pandemic to come back to some normality.”


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