Coronavirus cases are “rocketing” in Bristol, according to the city’s public health chief.
Director of public health at Bristol City Council Christina Gray issued the stark warning on Tuesday 15 June, saying cases had leapt by 150 per cent in a week.
It comes after the Government announced a four-week delay in the final lifting of lockdown amid a surge in cases across the country linked to the Delta variant which originated in India.
Speaking at a virtual public Q&A session, Ms Gray advised people to keep taking precautions and regular rapid coronavirus tests, regardless of whether they or those around them have had a Covid-19 vaccine.
The combination of vaccination, testing and “hands, face, space” behaviours will continue to be needed to reduce both the spread of the virus and the risk of another national lockdown, she said.
Ms Gray answered questions from members of the public along with the directors of public health in South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, where case rates are also rising exponentially.
One supermarket worker asked why staff should keep social distancing when many customers don’t bother.
Ms Gray replied: “This [the Covid-19 virus] has not gone away.
“Our case rates are rocketing in Bristol. We were up to a rate of 73 [per 100,000 people].
"We have increased 150 per cent in a week."
She said precautions are still needed because many people are still not vaccinated and even those who are do not have full protection.
Ms Gray said a lot of the cases detected were asymptomatic, especially in young people. But she said “exemplary” work by schools had contained outbreaks in those facilities.
“[In Bristol] we have got less than 100 people in schools – students and staff – who are positive, and those are spread across 25 settings from secondary, primary, early years and FE [further education],” she said.
Asked when life would get back to normal and what the chances of another lockdown were, Ms Gray said those decisions would be taken by central Government.
“Nobody wants to go back into lockdown,” Ms Gray said. “That’s why this four-week delay has been put in place.
“However, we are dealing with something which is very unknown. The virus is adapting and changing all the time and continues to surprise us.
“We’re going to need to get through the next winter and into the next spring before we really know that we’ve stabilised this. It may well be a very difficult winter.
“But if we want to avoid going back into lockdown, we all just have to continue to be cautious and careful, and not throw caution to the wind just because the rules come off.”
Credit: Amanda Cameron, local democracy reporter.
Listen to ITV News' coronavirus podcast