Covid: Kent variant reason why South Yorkshire coronavirus rates are high

Credit: PA

The reason coronavirus rates are high in South Yorkshire is that it took longer for the 'Kent Variant' of the virus to become dominant there, according to Sheffield's Director of Public Health.

Gregg Fell has told ITV News that the timing of the spread of the variant had caused the high rates in the county, as the dominance of the variant was much higher now than it had been when the country went into lockdown in January.

The latest figures from the React Study by Imperial College London show that coronavirus rates are not falling as quickly in South Yorkshire as the rest of the country.

Barnsley and Doncaster both have cases rates over 100 per 100,000, with Sheffield and Rotherham also having high case numbers.

Mr Fell said: "When we went into lockdown we had a much lower prevalence of the B117 variant than the rest of the country.

"Now that we are coming out of lockdown prevalence of B117 is now about 100% [of positive cases] and what we are seeing now is what was happening in the South East of England in November."

He added that the numbers of cases were going in the "right way" and that the hospitalisation rates were also falling.

Mr Fell also supported the lifting of lockdown measures in the area despite the higher rates.

He said: "We can't live in lockdown forever, living in lockdown forever brings further social and economic problems.

"I think approaching this as a country is the right thing to do."

He also said that the rise in the number of people being vaccinated meant that any small rises in cases caused by the easing of restrictions on Monday would be manageable.