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Paying workers more could help to cut South Holland's high Covid-19 case rate say union officials

Paying workers more money to self isolate could be the key to finally cutting South Holland’s Covid-19 high case rate.

The district continues to have one of the highest levels of coronavirus cases in the country - with infections here more than double the national average.

It’s widely believed that South Holland’s high case rate has been fuelled by the fact many people are employed in jobs that cannot be done from home.

South Holland is still suffering from high Covid infection rates.
South Holland is still suffering from high Covid infection rates.

It’s also feared that many workers cannot afford time off work to self-isolate so are reluctant to go for a test.

Unite says that Statutory Sick Pay must be raised from £95.85 to £320 a week to give such workers the security they need.

Unite national officer Bev Clarkson said: “Far too many food manufacturing staff in areas like South Lincolnshire are living hand to mouth on low wages and poor employment contracts.

“Many employers are refusing to provide any financial support for those presenting with symptoms, so it is inevitable that some staff will simply hope they don’t have it and go into work. Employers have a duty to treat their staff better and stop the spread of the disease.”

Official figures show 131 positive tests were recorded in the seven days to March 23rd. Yesterday, the case rate for South Holland was 124.2 per 100,000. That was the 13th highest case rate in the country and compares to a national average of 57.1.

This week, as the nation marked the anniversary of the first pandemic lockdown, South Holland’s total cases passed 5,000.

Lincolnshire public health consultant Andy Fox said: “It’s very hard to actually turn the curve on these things without being able to change some of the fundamental economics and work structures of the situation.”

He said the current situation is ‘in the hands of the government’ and explained: “We continue to work with the district council and regional and national agencies to encourage local businesses and communities to follow national guidance to reduce the spread of the virus, and access testing and self-isolate where necessary.”

Last week we revealed that officials are looking into a ‘community collection site’ which would make it easier for working people to get tests. As yet, there’s no further update on when this could begin.

*From Monday (29th), Covid restrictions are set to be relaxed to allow six people to meet outside and some outdoor sporting facilities to reopen.

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