This week's surveillance report, an analysis of the county's recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 28 December 2020 to 03 January 2021, shows 4,307 residents have tested positive with COVID-19; more than three times as many since the report released before Christmas.
The virus is continuing to thrive in the county's working population and the age groups with the most positive tests were 30 to 39 year olds for men and 20 to 29 year olds for women. Case rates for ages above 60 have also risen in the last week across all districts and boroughs. 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.
All districts and boroughs are on a rising trend, with the rate for Corby having seen the sharpest increase over the past week. Northampton has escalated ahead of the national average and is the highest in the county, followed by South Northamptonshire.
Public Health officials are warning against the consequences of further transmission and urging residents to stick to the gold standard protective trio; hands, face, space.
They are also calling for residents to exercise the highest degree of personal responsibility, especially when coming into contact with people over the age of 60 who tend to be at greater risk of more severe disease. Coronavirus related hospital admissions and deaths are continuing to go up in this age group. Nearly 30% of all hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID positive patients, with many normal NHS services stood down and emergency services at risk of being overwhelmed.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, says:
"Cases are rising and the mutant strain is rife across the county. I'm urging you to act as though you have the virus, be careful to wear your mask correctly, wash your hands thoroughly and socially distance at all times when outside your home. Stay at home wherever possible and if you have to go out, try to avoid busy places and times. If you were deemed extremely clinically vulnerable during the first lockdown you must shield again if possible.
"It's absolutely vital that we all exercise the highest degree of personal responsibility, especially when coming into contact with people over the age of 60. If you must mix with people in these age groups due to child care responsibilities, then you must do all you can to protect them. Ventilate rooms, maintain a 2 metre distance where possible and regularly encourage them and those they care for to wash their hands.
"If we do not act accordingly, the situation in our hospitals will get markedly worse. It may seem inconceivable that people injured in a car accident, those who slip over and injure themselves, or individuals who have overdosed may be left untreated, but that is what may happen if we do not act and maintain some capacity for urgent services in our health and care system."
Residents are also being reminded 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.
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.
Book a test online, on the Test and Trace app, or by calling 119. Home testing kits can also be ordered subject to availability.