This week we face the reality of a rise in Covid-19 cases and all this means for Brighton and Hove. Cases linked to the Delta variant are now doubling every 11 days. Sadly, the UK has now reported the highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases since February and a further nine coronavirus related deaths.

Unfortunately, this does mean that a third wave is approaching rapidly – with hospital admissions rising in parts of the country. The government announced a delay to further lockdown restrictions easing this week – a whole month after warnings were issued by several government’s scientific advisers urging them to clamp down on the Delta variant. Once again the “wait and see” response from government ministers is not good enough.

The government is finally confirming what I warned through this column over a month ago – that the more transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 has become the dominant strain in the UK. This is especially concerning because this strain is much more infectious than the Alpha (formerly known as Kent) variant that was once the most prevalent. We have our work cut out to keep cases low in the city.

Some of the highest rates in the city are in school-aged children and teenagers. In Bolton, one of the first areas to feel the true impact of the new variant – more than 30 per cent of secondary school pupils were recorded with Covid-related absences. As so many of our younger people have yet to be vaccinated, I am increasingly concerned about transmission among this group.

While it may feel like Covid-19 has gone away, any of us can still get sick, and face the ongoing symptoms of long-Covid, so it’s important to take all precautions against the virus.

I urge anyone who hasn’t received their vaccination to take up their offer and for those who are still on the waiting list, it’s increasingly important we all stick to the guidance we have followed for so long. Washing our hands, wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance really make a difference and have been crucial to how the city has suppressed waves of Covid-19 in the past.

I would plead with people if you want to meet friends, please do so outside and if inside open the windows and doors to make sure you’ve got good ventilation.

In light of the third wave we are lobbying for increased support for our city and particularly for our schools. In the same month as government were warned about Delta, astonishingly they removed the requirement for mask wearing in schools. Ministers have declared that reversing this needs their explicit permission first.

The council’s community hub can support anyone in need of help if self-isolating and I know schools are working around the clock to support pupils affected by Covid-19 but the contradictory messages and poor government support remind us why we all need to do what we can to prevent the virus spreading.

Alongside council leaders up and down the country I have taken my concerns about the growth of the variant, surge testing and vaccination direct to Robert Jenrick, Minister for Local Government, and asked why they did not act months ago. As ministers arrogantly promised no changes to their so-called “freedom day”, many employers preparing to re-hire staff now face the impact of the government’s decision to follow dates not data, not vice versa. I join calls from many businesses that still need long-term support, as the government refuses to extend furlough and business rates relief. We continue to work closely with our tourism business leaders who have shaped a new tourism recovery plan for the city and will keep lobbying as there is yet no new money proposed by government to cover the road map change, particularly for those in our night-time economy.

While we don’t yet know the full extent of the third wave, models from scientists indicate increased hospitalisation and deaths. The welfare of everyone in our city is my top priority and this is why I have met council and NHS officials this week to mobilise support for the city. I will shortly meet the city’s MPs, business leaders, community and faith leaders to work together to understand the impact of the Delta variant more closely, to plan and prepare.

We continue to push for vaccination as a key way to reduce risk but the evidence tells us it doesn’t completely prevent transmission, so regular testing, and following the guidance is still absolutely vital. Everyone is tired of the continued strain the pandemic is placing on us. But as we have done before, I appeal to everyone to work together to suppress this variant and keep our city on track for the future.