COVID-19 cases remain extremely high across Northamptonshire as rapid testing is introduced for asymptomatic key workers in Corby and Northampton – the most affected boroughs.
This week’s surveillance report, an analysis of the county’s recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 11-17 January 2021, shows 3,643 residents have tested positive. The numbers of cases in the latest week may have decreased compared to the previous week’s high but the weekly case total is 88% higher than the week of 14 December 2020.
Northamptonshire as a whole, Corby, Daventry, Kettering and South Northamptonshire have sadly seen an increase in deaths compared to the previous week. Our local hospitals are also reporting one in three patient beds occupied by residents with the virus.
The county’s infection rate per 100,000 population as a weekly average is 521.2, similar to the national average, with Northampton and Corby’s rates significantly higher. Case rates for those aged above 60 have also risen in Northampton and Corby and continue to be higher than the county average. This is of extreme concern as these age groups tend to be at greater risk of more severe disease and observed hospital admission and deaths. Corby’s case rate for ages 60+ saw a particularly sharp increase in recent weeks, and while it has since declined it remains the highest in the county.
The age group with the most positive tests was 20 to 29 year olds for both men and women. The new variant is appearing to cause more hospital admissions and deaths in this age category.
Public Health officials are warning against the consequences of further transmission. They are reminding residents that coronavirus complacency can kill and to continue to strictly follow the national guidance. Residents are also being reminded that COVID-19 can be invisible. Up to 80% of people who have the virus may show no symptoms at all but still carry the disease at a strength which could kill another person.
With this in mind, new asymptomatic community based testing sites are open at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby and the University of Northampton. The available test is called a Lateral Flow Test and involves a swab of the mouth and nose and provides a result within 30 minutes. The tests are for those who are unable to work from home and particularly those in high-risk workplaces or key worker roles. Further sites across the county will open up over the next three weeks.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, says:
“If such a high percentage of the population could have the disease without showing symptoms, they could be casually spreading the disease everywhere they go. That is why you should always ‘act as if you have it’ because you may not know you do. Please ‘Stay at home, Protect the NHS and Save lives.’
“If you must leave the house, you must take as many precautions as possible not to transmit this deadly virus. If you test positive, even if you feel absolutely fine, you must still self-isolate for ten days.
“Remember that complacency can kill! The new variant is up to 70% more transmissible. We are in national lockdown and compliance with Government restrictions and regulations is essential if we are to see our positive case rates continue come down. Thank you to each and every one of you who is staying at home and following the rules – it’s working but we have a long way to go still. Keep at it and we will beat this!”
Residents are also being reminded via a local radio campaign that the virus can be transferred on all surfaces and that ‘every contact leaves a trace.’ Pedestrian crossing buttons, lift buttons, handrails and car doors are all touch points which may be harbouring the coronavirus. When using public transport, shopping, accepting parcels and deliveries (including online shopping), car sharing (in bubbles), touching doors, going in and out of buildings – they are all potential points of COVID-19 transmission and so frequent hand washing is a must if you don’t want to contract COVID-19 from surfaces. The new variant is spreading rapidly so hand washing, face coverings and keeping a distance are all vital.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste), you should immediately self-isolate and book a test. New booking slots are available each evening for the next day and more are released each morning. Pre-booking is essential.
If you test positive, you must self-isolate for ten days – with your household also isolating for 10 days from when the positive person’s symptoms started - do not go to your workplace, to school or to the shops. Either work from home or report sick. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be helped by the NHS test and trace service to identify the people they’ve recently been in contact with so they can be alerted and also self-isolate if required.
Tests can be booked on the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. Home testing kits can also be ordered subject to availability.