Stay vigilant plea as cases rise

We are now – unfortunately – a region within the UK experiencing the greatest rate of viral infection and with Covid rates increasing sharply across Bath & North East Somerset, parents and carers are asked to stay vigilant and protect themselves and others.

The council’s Director of Public Health, Becky Reynolds said: “It’s concerning to see how quickly our Covid-19 rates have been rising, particularly amongst 5-19 and the 40-49-year-olds. Today the seven-day rate for Bath and North East Somerset at 760 per 100,000 is the highest rate in England compared with other unitary authorities.

“NHS Test and Trace have been investigating a laboratory issue and while this has been taking place we have not seen a true picture of Covid-19 infection rates in the South West. The issue has now been resolved, however, we can expect to see our rates rise as a result. 

“There is so much virus circulating at the moment and we need everyone’s help to stop the increase in rates we are seeing in Bath and North East Somerset. We are especially appealing to teenagers, parents and carers to be alert to the virus and follow the simple steps we all need to take if we have symptoms or are a close contact of someone with symptoms.”

Figures for B&NES show the seven-day case rate for 10-14 year olds is more than 4,000 per 100,000 at week ending Thursday 14th October. Case rates are also increasing rapidly amongst the 5-9-year-olds, those aged 15-19 years, and amongst 40-49-year-olds.

Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, added: “We have all worked so hard over the past 20 months to keep each other safe and it is very concerning now to see the figures rising so rapidly. I am urging people to get back to the basics of mask wearing, hand washing and regular testing to try and bring these numbers down. Please continue to take up all the jabs you are offered be that the vaccine, the booster or the flu jab. If we don’t all act now I am concerned the pressures will increase on the NHS, our services and businesses as we go into winter.” 

While the virus is in circulation, along with other winter illnesses such as colds and flu, we advise that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded places unless exempt, make space, meet outdoors where possible, ventilate indoor spaces and if unwell recover at home.

To support this advice, schools that meet certain case number thresholds are supported to put in place extra measures such as mask wearing in communal areas for secondary school age children, not holding whole assemblies or other large gatherings, and staggering break times and entry into schools.

Secondary school age pupils are strongly encouraged to continue to test themselves twice a week with the rapid lateral flow device test kits, 3 to 4 days apart.

If you have a positive lateral flow test result, self-isolate and get a free PCR test as soon as possible to confirm whether or not you have Covid-19. You should also get a PCR test if been in contact with someone who’s tested positive.

If you are self-isolating due to Covid you can get support such as emergency food, mental health support and other help and advice from the Community Wellbeing Hub on 0300 247 0050.

If you’re eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine (including the booster vaccine and the vaccine for 12-15-year-olds) or your flu jab, it’s really important to book this as soon as you can so you get fully protected.

With half-term fast approaching families are also asked to think about whether they can meet outdoors, and if meeting indoors, to keep rooms well ventilated. We know that the most significant route of Covid-19 transmission is through airborne spread, and so good ventilation is key.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to take these precautionary measures. We are seeing an increasing number of people in hospital with COVID-19, there were 57 inpatients yesterday, our NHS and schools are under increasing pressure, and businesses are impacted when staff are off ill. So reminding ourselves to make these precautionary measures part of our day to day lives will make a real difference to protecting each other and our communities.

Last week NHS Test and Trace (NHS TT) suspended testing operations provided by Immensa Health Clinic Ltd at its laboratory in Wolverhampton, following an investigation into reports of people receiving negative PCR test results after they had previously tested positive on a Lateral Flow Device (LFD).

While investigations are under way into the precise cause, NHS TT estimate that around 400,000 samples were processed through the lab, the vast majority of which will have been negative results, but an estimated 43,000 people may have been given incorrect negative PCR test results between 8 September and 12 October, mostly in the South West of England. There is no technical issue with the PCR kits and it continues to be really important that people make use of them as normal.