Caution urged with Covid cases high among county youngsters

Families across Leicestershire are being urged to remain cautious because of high levels of coronavirus among young people in the county.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 8:32 am
Some of the team members who carried out Covid testing of students and staff at John Ferneley College in Melton earlier this year EMN-210825-082600001

The county’s top public health official, Mike Sandys, has made the appeal as students return to schools this week for a new term.

Mr Sandys, who is Leicestershire County Council’s director of public health, is concerned that the infection rate among 11 to 16-year-olds in the county is now 582.8 cases per 100,000 people.

This is above the national average for that age group, which is 443.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Mr Sandys says children are at low risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid themselves but that the return to school could increase the chance of them taking the virus home and infecting older relatives.

He said: “With the relaxation of restrictions pupils no longer have to remain in bubbles as they did before so there will be more mixing.

“We have already seen rates rising among young people when they have been socialising during the holidays.

“There have been examples of parties being held to celebrate the recent exam results which we think have been contributing to pushing rates up well beyond where we want them to be.

“It is really important children return to the classroom safely, and schools have been working really hard to make that possible, but we must all remember the virus is still here.

“It doesn’t distinguish between one side of the school gate or the other so we can’t let our guard down.”

Secondary schools and colleges have been asked to prepare for on-site testing and the government has said all pupils and students should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, three to five days apart until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.

Mr Sandys said there were also simple things that people can do beyond the school gates to help reduce the risk of spreading infection.

He said: “The trend of household clusters is something we’ve spotted in recent weeks it’s important people continue to be sensible.

“Simple steps like regular testing, handwashing, wiping down surfaces and opening windows or doorways to allow air to flow through will all contribute to help keeping you and those around you safe.”

He added: “Getting vaccinated is the best form of protection being offered out there at the moment, but it doesn’t prevent you from catching or spreading the virus.

“Testing is so accessible now and it’s important we embrace the hygiene habits we’ve formed over the recent months to keep the virus at bay.”

Schools will contact families directly about their arrangements regarding covid.