Potential local lockdown in South Yorkshire

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis is warning of a potential local lockdown in South Yorkshire if the government fails to fix the coronavirus testing system.

Jarvis, who is also the MP for Barnsley, warned that if the problems with the Test and Trace system are not solved soon more lives, jobs and businesses will be put at risk.

His call comes as 60,000 students arrive in Sheffield, at a time when coronavirus cases are already rising quickly in the region. It is feared that an increase in population, teamed with an inefficient test and trace system, could see cases rise to a point where a local lockdown is introduced in South Yorkshire.

Writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Jarvis urged for decisive action from the government to stem a rapid rise in cases in the region, including bringing in the military to fix the current testing crisis. A similar move has already taken place in Birmingham and supports civilian efforts in areas where there is a high number of cases.

Jarvis claims that without  a functioning test and trace system in place, cases will rise to a point where further restrictions will need to be brought in to curb the spread of the virus. The Sheffield City Region Mayor is also seeking priority access to testing for the region’s key workers and for the government to integrate testing to enable a joined-up approach to testing.

Jarvis said: “There is no bigger priority for the country than the immediate resolution of the current capacity and timeliness of the testing system. Without this it is impossible to understand and manage the scale of the problem we face. This is essential in retaining public trust and faith to follow the guidance that it is given.

“Now is the moment to act decisively, before we see more lives, jobs and businesses across South Yorkshire put at risk. For this reason, I would strongly urge you to immediately utilise the excellent, strategic capabilities within our Armed Forces to help manage the current crisis regarding testing. Their logistical expertise exemplified by the rate at which they established the Nightingale Hospitals would be as of great a use now, as it was then. The country must draw upon every resource at its disposal if we are to manage the risk posed by Covid in the days, weeks and months ahead.”