By Rachael Grealish
New COVID-19 cases almost doubled in the last week across Cumbria as members of the public responded to calls for ‘surge testing’.
According to statistics released today, Thursday June 24, by week ending June 18 there were 382 new cases, up from 198 the previous week – an increase of 92 percent.
This means new cases have approximately doubled in each of the last three weeks, in Cumbria.
New cases increased from the previous week in all Cumbrian districts and for the second week in a row, South Lakeland had the greatest number of new cases, with 103 new cases.
For the third week in a row, Eden had the highest rate of new cases (107 new cases per 100k population), closely followed by Barrow-in-Furness and South Lakeland (103 and 98 new cases per 100k population respectively).
Eden and Barrow’s rates were just above the national average rate while South Lakeland’s rate was equal to the national average rate (England 98 new cases per 100k population).
However, rates of new cases in all Cumbrian districts remained below the regional average rate (233 new cases per 100k population).
South Lakeland experienced the greatest numerical and proportional weekly increases in new cases (an increase of 59 new cases, 134 percent from the previous week).
The 12-18 and 19-24 age groups accounted for the greatest numbers of new cases in Cumbria (93 and 65 new cases respectively).
These age groups also accounted for the greatest rates of new cases in Cumbria (254 and 232 new cases per 100k population respectively).
However, the high case rate among young people is being seen in the impact on schools, with 55 schools currently dealing with incidents in school, ten in full outbreak status and three schools currently closed.
This comes after the County Council and NHS sending out a call for ‘surge testing’, asking everyone aged 12-30 to get a PCR test.
School age children are being offered testing in school, while those not of school age can attend a local PCR test site or get a test delivered to their home via GOV.UK.
The latest confirmed testing data for Saturday and Sunday show an additional 2,845 PCR tests completed compared to the five-week average. Further data will be available in the coming days.
A public communications campaign is underway to raise awareness of the testing call.
It’s not only youngsters there’s been increases among, the rate of cases in the under 50 age group was 5.6 times higher than the rate of cases in the 50+ age group.
New cases in the under 50 age group increased by 102 percent compared to a 43 percent increase in the 50+ age group.
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said: “The rapid spread of covid is concerning, particularly among younger age groups but we are not yet seeing a significant impact on our hospitals which is good news and reflects success of the vaccine roll-out.
“However, the high number of cases is causing serious disruption in schools, with this week having the highest number of schools affected at any one time during the pandemic.
“Our contact tracing work has shown infections started to rise after half-term when people had been on holiday or mixed more widely, but transmission is now happening within schools and families.
“Our surge testing campaign continues, and I’d like to thank the thousands of people who have already heeded the call and been tested. By helping us find people who are infectious, surge testing gives us a chance to get a grip on this and prevent further spread.
“Overall, the basic public health advice is still crucial – wash hands regularly, wear a face covering, give people space, meet outside where possible, get vaccinated, get tested if you have symptoms or are asked to do so. If we just keep going for a while longer, we will get through this.”
According to GOV.uk there was a decrease in the number of COVID deaths in the last week; by week ending Wednesday June 23, there were two COVID-19 deaths within 28 days of a positive test – one in Copeland and one in Eden.
Also stated in the statistics shows the number of people being admitted to hospital in Cumbria as a result of COVD-19 has remained low.
It’s now showing 81 percent of Cumbrian adults have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, with 63 percent having received both doses.
Vaccination is now available to everyone aged over 18 and anyone can book their vaccination at www.nhs.uk.
Nationally, data* is suggesting that around three quarters of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 days and have attended Accident and Emergency have not been vaccinated.
The latest COVID-19 situation report for Cumbria can be found at: www.cumbria.gov.uk/stopthespread