Northamptonshire’s total number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall slowly, but two districts show a slight rise and all neighbourhoods’ infection rates per 100,000 population remain significantly higher or similar to the national average.
This week’s surveillance report, an analysis of the county’s recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 12 – 18 April 2021, shows 285 residents have tested positive. That’s a decrease of 20% since last week and 51% lower than the week beginning 15th March 2021. Corby, Kettering, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough all recorded decreases in total cases but both Daventry and South Northamptonshire saw small increases.
Meanwhile, infection rates per 100,000 population in all district and boroughs remain significantly higher than or similar to the national average of 25.8%. Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering, Daventry and Corby’s rates are significantly higher.
Although Corby’s rate has been slowly falling since 26th March, the borough continues to have one of the highest case rates in England, at 55.4 per 100,000. Wellingborough, at 62.7 per 100,000, now has a higher case rate than Corby. Both areas are appearing amongst the worst recorded rates in England, so compliance continues to be needed in order to bring these rates down.
Out of the ten-year age bands, secondary school age children have the highest case numbers but working age adults are a close second. For both males and females, the age group with the most positive tests was 10 to 19-year olds, closely followed by 30 to 39-year olds.
Despite the children back at secondary school and many employees back in the workplace, the numbers of those coming forward for rapid coronavirus testing has plateaued. In a bid to contain the virus, Public Health officials are urging all eligible residents to take the free tests and make testing twice a week part of their new routine.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination in the elderly and most vulnerable people, and the positive impact lockdown has had on community transmission, the number of deaths continues to reduce to levels similar to that seen at the start of the pandemic and end of the first wave. Corby, East Northamptonshire and South Northamptonshire have seen no deaths in the last three weeks.
The number of patients in hospital due to COVID-19 has also been on a decreasing trend since mid-January, although the rate of decline has recently slowed. The latest data shows a total of 14 COVID-19 patients occupied hospital beds in Northamptonshire on 20th April 2021. Bed occupancy has now decreased to levels last seen in mid-October 2020, however there is still some demand for Intensive Care beds.
Now, and in the coming months, residents are being urged to continue to get tested with symptoms and without. Everyone in Northamptonshire, and across England, is now able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing. This includes those who do not have symptoms. The lateral flow tests are available for home use or at test centres, workplaces and schools. Results take as little as 30 minutes.
Lucy Wightman Joint Director of Public Health - North and West Northamptonshire Councils says: “I am very pleased the overall case numbers of COVID-19 across the county continue to drop but we must continue to practice COVID-safe actions if we are to push case rates even further down.
“Across the county, the most positive tests in the last four weeks were found in 10 to 19-year olds, closely followed by 30 to 39-year olds. This is thought to be a result of more testing amongst these groups and it is good to see so many pupils doing so. Testing rates however have started to plateau which is of concern. Testing is the only way we can keep track of the coronavirus and contain it through self-isolation. Without it, the virus will spread silently and could take a foothold once again.
“Anyone can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests without having symptoms. About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others and getting regular tests is the only way to know if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading. Test yourself regularly if you are somebody who goes out to work, is responsible for a child who attends secondary school, visiting a care home or will be in the company of those who might be vulnerable to the virus. It’s the only way to really know that you are not infectious and to keep the people around you safe. It takes thirty minutes for a result and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Testing will be a part of normal life for the foreseeable future in Northamptonshire and across the nation so let’s make twice weekly testing part of our routine and get life back to normal.“
Northamptonshire’s residents are also being strongly urged get vaccinated when the call comes for both the first and second dose to ensure that the county progresses through the remaining two steps outlined in the Government’s ‘Roadmap out of lockdown.’ Care home and domiciliary staff who haven’t yet received their first dose are now able to use the national NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Service – by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/covidvaccinatio to book an appointment. For pregnant women reading this:
- We encourage them to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician. There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy. However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed and, in the meantime, these two are preferable.
- The county’s community-based testing sites, as well as being a collection point for test kit orders, are at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby, Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre in Corby, Danes Camp Leisure Centre in Northampton, Brackley Leisure Centre in South Northants and Redwell Leisure Centre in Wellingborough, Daventry Leisure Centre in Daventry. A “pop-up” centre is now open at Hall Park, Rushden Hall, the first of its kind within Northamptonshire. In addition, a new site was launched this week at North Pavilion Drive, Kettering.
The test is called a Lateral Flow Test and involves a swab of the mouth and nose and provides a result within 30 minutes. The University of Northampton site is now restricted to students and university staff.
- If you are not showing symptoms but must work with others, get the rapid test to find out if you are infectious and isolate if positive. It is vital however to understand that the test only tells you whether you are at peak infectiousness at the time of the test, it does not tell you that you are COVID-free. Levels of infectiousness change from the point of contracting the virus to the point you recover from it, which can take up to 14 days, during which time you may not have experienced any symptoms. It is therefore vital that you exercise all COVID-secure measures even if you get a negative result. You must continue to follow COVID guidelines and remember to wash your hands, wear a face covering indoors and maintain 2m distance from others.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, remember to get tested as soon as possible to find out if you are positive. If you have a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste, you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test. Tests can be booked on the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119.
- If you have either type of COVID-19 test and it is positive, you must self-isolate for ten days – with your household also isolating for 10 days from when the positive person’s symptoms started, or test result was positive if they have no symptoms. 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.