MP Says Vaccine Take-Up Should Mean Holiday Easing

Covid-19 numbers – for positive tests, for hospitalisations and for deaths – have all been reported on a sharply downward trend for several weeks in both Hastings and Rother. Local vaccination roll out has at the same time kept pace with national timetables. In Hastings at least, the target of offering the top four priority groups a first dose of either Pfizer or Astra Zeneca vaccines appears to have been met. Last week the GP-led programme here was already reaching the 65-69 age group.

Catching the current mood this poster, by graphic artist Luke Smile,
recently appeared in Upper Park Road, Bohemia
. Instagram

Government statistics for positive tests in both Hastings and Rother show a top peak – of over 1,000 per seven day period in Hastings, over 700 in Rother – as having occurred around 23rd December and again on 4th January (the dip presumably accounted for a slackening of efforts to get people tested during the period between Christmas and New Year), Since then, these figures have reduced steadily.

In Hastings there were 124 new positive tests showing Covid infection in the week between 7th and 13th February; this contrasts with 172 for the previous seven days.  Over the same period there were nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test compared to 16 the previous week. 

The improvement is equally apparent in Rother: positive tests down from 134 to 54; deaths down from 21 to 17.

As to hospitalisations, East Sussex Health Care Trust, which manages the Conquest and Eastbourne District General Hospital, disclosed on Sunday that they have an aggregate of 226 in-patients currently being treated for Covid, with just 18 on ventilation. There were 97 admissions in the week up to 7th February, a drop from 117 the previous week.

Hastings & Rye MP Sally Ann Hart has kept silent publicly in recent weeks as to how she believes that the government should respond to these clearly ameliorating health figures. However her Conservative colleague Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, who voted against the government’s tier restrictions on 1st December and is believed to be one of the 63 MPs in a self-styled Covid Research Group of his party calling for a rapidly phased easing of lockdown restrictions, has been more vocal. As chairman of the Transport Select Committee in parliament, he challenged the Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week to confirm that the new restrictions imposed on international travel and arrivals would be “a temporary measure which would not impact summer travel”; he says he was left “bemused” when Mr Hancock suggested that they could last until autumn, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps advised against making holiday plans for the summer even within the UK.

“One of the reasons I was willing to support the lockdowns of this year was because I was assured that once the vaccination had been delivered, lockdowns would be over,” Mr Merriman observed in a statement issued last Friday. “If ever we’ve deserved or needed a holiday, this is the year. In our part of the country, it’s not just a leisurely pursuit but, for many in the tourism and hospitality business, a job and a livelihood.

“I am determined to ensure that we get our travel industry, and our leisure time, back to some form of normality once the UK is vaccinated.”

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