Youths aged 11 to 22 are at centre of Indian Covid variant surge in Bedford as locals fear another lockdown
- There is growing concern about the number of cases in the town of Bedford
- The B.1.617.2 strain now accounts for almost three-quarters of cases in the town
- Council team leader says local lockdowns don’t work as people will go elsewhere
In the market town of Bedford, locals are concerned they could be plunged into another local lockdown amid a surge in Covid cases caused by the more infectious Indian variant.
The B.1.617.2 strain now accounts for almost three-quarters of cases in the town and is spreading fastest among people aged 11 to 22, according to the latest Bedford Borough snapshot.
Georgie Lawson, 66, said her biggest fear was the removal of freedoms as the rest of the UK prepares to open up.
The B.1.617.2 strain now accounts for almost three-quarters of cases in the town and is spreading fastest among people aged 11 to 22
She added: ‘I am worried about another lockdown. You do feel like a prisoner in your own home.’
Louise Jackson, Bedford council’s lead on health and wellbeing, said: ‘Local lockdowns don’t work.
Our local economy can’t sustain it, and people will just move elsewhere, they’ll take the virus to Luton or London. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve had a whole year of this.’
In the town, there is growing concern about the number of cases, which have more than doubled in the last week to 105 per 100,000 people.
Bill Gill, a 60-year-old retail manager who lives two miles from the town centre, said that despite having had both shots of the vaccine, he was concerned about the Indian variant.
In the town, there is growing concern about the number of cases, which have more than doubled in the last week to 105 per 100,000 people
On Friday, officials started vaccinating younger people – despite official guidance still restricting jabs to those aged 38 and over
‘A lot of people are quite anxious to have a rise in cases just as things are opening up,’ he said.
John Hillyard, 85, who has run a vegetable market stall in Bedford since 1960, said: ‘We’re all worried about it but we’ll just have to do as we’re told.’
On Friday, officials started vaccinating younger people – despite official guidance still restricting jabs to those aged 38 and over. Teachers and parents with children at Bedford Academy were invited to use spare doses in a bid to quash the alarming spread.
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It wasn’t easy within the current rules but we managed to get it done in partnership with our local hospital and the local clinical commissioning group who had a limited number of spare Pfizer vaccines going.
‘The school is in an area with higher deprivation and increased levels of vaccine hesitancy so we think it was the right thing to do to help reduce transmission.’
As part of tomorrow’s relaxing of guidelines, masks in schools can be ditched but Mr Hodgson said he had sent ‘very strong guidance’ to schools recommending that pupils should keep wearing them and remain in their bubbles.
His views were yesterday backed by Gurch Randhawa, professor in diversity and public health from Bedfordshire University, who said he thought the town was at a ‘tipping point’.
‘The Government has got to be really careful that they don’t choose the wrong path,’ he said. ‘These populistic gestures of allowing children not to wear masks and permitting hugs are a bit premature, especially in light of the Indian variant being in circulation.’